EXCLUSIVE: Brian Perera’s LA-based label Cleopatra Records is expanding into film distribution and production, eyeing projects focused on indie music and its icons. Its first move is acquiring all U.S. rights to Morrissey biopic Steven with Jack Lowden as the legendary British singer and frontman of The Smiths. Jessica Brown Findlay also stars.
First-time helmer Mark Gill is directing Steven from a script he co-wrote with William Thacker, his collaborator on the 2014 Oscar-nominated short The Voorman Problem. HanWay is handling international sales on the project, which is scheduled for production this month. EOne previously acquired UK rights. Cleopatra is planning a day-and-date release.
This is the first project to be theatrically distributed by Cleopatra’s film division, following a number of smaller ventures and partnerships on indie titles. It is looking to produce, finance and distribute three to four films a year.
The label was founded in 1992 and has helped bring such alternative and underground acts as Christian Death, Chrome and Nik Turner to wider audiences. It has also released albums by Todd Rundgren, Judy Collins, Motörhead and William Shatner, among others.
“This year felt like the right year for jumping into the film business, with the way technology is making dramatic changes to the way films are being made and distributed,” Perera says. “It’s similar to the shift that happened in music distribution over a decade ago, which allowed a small independent label like us to get our bands and artists heard just as much as the major label artists.”
The company has also set May 20 as the U.S. digital release for The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead, a documentary on seminal London punk band the Damned from director Wes Orshoski which premiered at SXSW last year. Among other partnerships, Cleopatra is also teamed with The Orchard on horror title Blood Trap, which will debut digitally on September 20.