Kiss frontman Gene Simmons and Gary Hamilton, chairman of Arclight Films, have launched Simmons/Hamilton Prods. to develop, finance and produce feature films.
The standalone banner will produce 25 movies over an initial five-year period, with a focus on action, thriller and genre titles with global franchise potential.
The company is backed by a multi-billion dollar fund manager that is providing slate financing through a revolving finance facility. Arclight Films’ CFO Brian Beckmann was responsible for closing the slate funding deal. All films created under the new company — which was first discussed five years ago, and recently firmed up — will be produced by Simmons and Hamilton, both of whom are in Cannes for the festival. The focus is to build a feature film production company, targeting original theatrical product that can be developed into franchise properties.
The collaboration will merge Arclight Films’ expertise in the independent production, finance and sales space while leveraging Simmons’ relationships in the entertainment industry as the co-founder of Kiss. The band has released 44 albums and sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
Arclight Films will handle worldwide sales for films produced by the new outfit.
The first film greenlit under Simmons/Hamilton Prods. is “Deep Water,” a survival thriller directed by Renny Harlin (“Die Hard 2,” “Cliffhanger”). Scheduled to go into production later this year, the film tells the tale of an eclectic group of international passengers whose plane, en route from Los Angeles to Shanghai, is forced to make an emergency landing in shark-infested waters. The terrified group is forced to work together and overcome their differences if they hope to escape their sinking plane and the frenzy of sharks drawn to the wreckage.
The film is produced by Simmons, Hamilton, Arclight Films’ Ying Ye and Rob Van Norden. Arclight Films is launching worldwide sales on “Deep Water” at the Cannes market.
“I’ve had my greatest success when working with planes or sharks,” said Harlin. “Getting to combine those two of my favorite thriller elements in a character-driven action adventure is a dream come true. I can’t wait to take the audience on the scariest plane ride of their lives. Gene and Gary both are my old friends and I’m excited to rock ’n’ roll through the friendly skies with them.”
Simmons added: “Throughout my storied history in the music business, I’ve met all sorts of characters, but Gary Hamilton is the real deal! He’s a remarkable film executive and a great collaborator who, along with the fantastic team at Arclight Films, brings his expertise and outstanding knowledge of the film industry to this partnership. I am pumped and excited to be launching ‘Deep Water’ as our first project together with the action maven Renny Harlin at the helm.”
Hamilton said: “This exciting new partnership is a beautiful marriage of outstanding production and sales might coupled with a colorful history of showmanship and shrewd business acumen. Gene is not only a talented musician and performer, but he’s also a very savvy businessman and one of the most formidable cinephiles I’ve ever met — he’s the perfect partner as we introduce ‘Deep Water’ to our buyers in Cannes.”
Simmons’ producing credits include “Armed Response,” starring Wesley Snipes and Anne Heche, and New Line Cinema’s cult classic “Detroit Rock City,” starring Edward Furlong and Natasha Lyonne. He also served as a creator and executive producer on A&E’s reality series “Gene Simmons: Family Jewels” as well as Nickelodeon’s animated series “My Dad the Rock Star.”
Arclight Films’ current slate of films includes David Mamet’s “Assassination,” starring Viggo Mortensen, Al Pacino, Shia LaBeouf and John Travolta; the comedy “Arthur’s Whiskey,” starring Diane Keaton, Patricia Hodge and Lulu; and the Sundance title “Fairyland,” starring Scoot McNairy and Emilia Jones and produced by Sofia Coppola.