The news was made known to Orchard staff this morning after Davidson and CEO Brad Navin met.
As Sundance was kicking off, it was announced that 1091 Media would acquire The Orchard’s Film & TV division, to be renamed at a later point in time. Meanwhile, The Orchard would re-devote itself to its music business which includes a catalog of 25K copyrights of such artists compositions by John Denver, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood and more.
The Orchard during Davidson’s tenure has been behind such pics as Neruda, American Animals which it co-acquired with MoviePass at last year’s festival, Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and the Sam Elliott ailing movie star drama The Hero. One of the more notable acquisitions by Orchard out of TIFF 2017 was Louis C.K.’s black and white comedy I Love You, Daddy, which the distributor picked up global on for $5M prior to the comedic filmmaker making headlines in the NY Times over previous sexual misconduct claims. Orchard back off on releasing the pic days before its release, and eventually C.K. bought the movie back, as exclusively reported by Deadline.
Recent notable pick-ups by The Orchard include the Tribeca Film Festival premiere The Party’s Just Beginning directed by and starring Guardians of the Galaxy actress Karen Gillan and Under the Eiffel Tower starring and produced by Veep double-Emmy nominee Matt Walsh.
Below is Davidson’s memo circulated to staff:
When I came to The Orchard almost five years ago, it was clear there was great potential for the film division, which would build off the amazing achievements of the music side of the business, with the same spirit of transparency and true partnership. We saw the opportunity to replicate this success for film directors, producers and content creators, and we launched a new strategy for the film group, bolstered by a stellar, wildly creative team of leaders passionate about film and smart about business.
I’m very proud of what we’ve built with The Orchard in such a short amount of time: a well-recognized brand associated with high-quality films, strategic thinking, collaboration and creativity, and a track record of critically acclaimed (and award-nominated) films including What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, American Animals, The Hero, We the Animals, The Overnight, Birds of Passage, Neruda, Beats Per Minute, Cartel Land, Life, Animated, The Dawn Wall and so many more – about 4,000 more to be exact.
Now, as the company ends one chapter and begins another, I have made the decision to move on from The Orchard film group. While I am very appreciative that 1091 asked me to continue to run the company in its new iteration, for me the time is right to look toward my own next chapter and build something new. There are exciting things on the horizon, and I look forward to sharing more when I’m able.
I want to thank Brad for his support for all these years. He has always been a huge supporter of what we’ve been doing and has been an incredible partner. Without his support and that of the management team at The Orchard, we would not be where we are today. I also want to thank the entire team, whose hard work and passion attracted a stable of incredible filmmakers, emerging new voices and prolific producing teams which, in turn, spread the word about the valuable brand we’ve built.
This has been an immensely personal journey for me, and I am incredibly proud of the work we have all done together and of the relationships we have forged. I wish you all the very best!