Mel Gibson has always been better known as a movie star and film director than as a Hollywood mogul. Yet he has been at the head of LA-based Icon Group with partner Bruce Davey since 1989. Today they announced the sale of the UK operations of their film and entertainment business to the US-based industrial group, Access Industries. The deal includes Icon’s international sales company, the distribution operation based in the UK, and the Majestic Films & Television library. (But not the LA operation Icon Productions, which Gibson still owns outright with Davey who relocated to Australia.) The UK business will continue to operate under the Icon name but former UK Film Council chairman Stewart Till will be appointed Icon UK’s new CEO as well as an equity holder in the business.
Commenting on the deal in a press statement, Stewart Till said: “This acquisition is a fantastic first step in our plans to build an international distribution network that will be operational in all the key major territories around the world, including Eastern Europe and Asia.”
Added Bruce Davey, Chairman, Icon Group “We’re very pleased to have done a deal with Stewart and Access and to know that the Icon brand will be in such experienced hands. We look forward to continuing a close relationship between the Icon UK and Australian businesses and keenly anticipate the company’s expansion plans into other territories.”
Icon UK and Icon Australia will continue to acquire territory distribution rights together. LA-based Icon Productions has also entered into a first-look deal with Icon UK. Icon Distribution’s upcoming UK slate includes Paranormal Activity, The Box, Nowhere Boy, The Road, Edge of Darkness (which stars Mel Gibson), Precious and A Single Man.
Unlike most other independent production companies, Icon internally funds most of its development and production costs, allowing it to retain creative control of its projects. Icon Productions films include “Hamlet,” “Forever Young”, “The Man Without a Face,” “Airborne,” “Maverick,” “Immortal Beloved,” the Academy Award winning “Braveheart,” “On Our Selection,” “Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina,” “187,” “FairyTale: A True Story,” “Payback,” “An Ideal Husband,” “Felicia’s Journey,” “What Women Want,” “We Were Soldiers,” “The Singing Detective,” “Paparazzi,” “The Passion Of The Christ,” “Seraphim Falls” and “Apocalypto.”
Access Industries is a U.S.-based privately held industrial group founded in 1986 by Len Blavatnik. Its holdings span three sectors: natural resources and chemicals; telecommunications and media; and real estate. Access Industries’ holdings in the media sector currently include majority stakes in Perform Group (the online sports broadcaster), TopUpTV (a UK-based digital terrestrial TV service provider) and Amedia (an entertainment TV content developer and producer in Russia) together with minority stakes in RGE Group (an Israeli TV production company) and Warner Music Group (one of the world’s leading recorded music labels and music publishers).