Chris Ball, President and CEO of LA-based film production and distribution company Wrekin Hill Entertainment, and Joel Weinshanker, President and CEO of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA), a movie merchandising powerhouse that has become an essential tastemaker for the all-important Fanboy culture, announced today a strategic partnership whereby the two companies will join to distribute four to five titles theatrically each year. The first film to be released and marketed theatrically via this new partnership will be Spencer Susser’s HESHER, which screened last night at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. A Wrekin Hill release of a Newmarket Films/NECA Films/Corner Store Entertainment presentation acquired in conjunction with Newmarket Films, the film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, and Rainn Wilson. The film has been set for a May 13th opening in major markets across the country.
Wrekin Hill and NECA have also partnered to acquire and release Alexandre O. Phillipe’s documentary comedy THE PEOPLE VS GEORGE LUCAS
(which premiered at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival) (all rights in English-speaking territories excluding Canada) and writer/director J.B. Ghuman Jr’s colorful and foul-mouthed musical comedy SPORK (which premiered last year at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival) (all North American rights) . Both films will be released in 2011.
Wrekin Hill is also launching a new genre label called Underhill Films. In addition to the theatrical titles that Wrekin Hill intends to release with NECA, the companies will also partner on the release of a broad spectrum of DVD and VOD titles for Underhill Films. The first acqusitions for Underhill Films (with NECA) are Suri Krishnamma’s mind-bending thriller LOCKED IN starring Ben Barnes and Elza Dushku, and writer/director Brian A. Metcalf’s fantasy horror film FADING OF THE CRIES starring Brad Dourif. Wrekin Hill executive John Crye is currently at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival looking at acquisition titles for both Wrekin Hill and Underhill Films.
Wrekin Hill and Underhill releases will benefit from home entertainment distribution via Wrekin Hill’s ancillary output deal with Lionsgate, as well as Canadian distribution via Wrekin Hill’s Canadian output agreement with eOne.
NECA makes this move into feature film distribution following its recent purchase of the assets of Hollywood Movie Gallery, one of the largest movie and game rental companies in the United States, giving NECA access to millions of moviegoers around the country and expanding NECA’s already well-established relationship with movie-loving consumers via its merchandising business. NECA has handled the merchandising for virtually every major horror franchise (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, FRIDAY THE 13TH, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, HALLOWEEN, HELLRAISER, SAW) and for some of the coolest directors in the business (Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Zack Snyder, just to name a few). NECA also brings to its new foray into distribution deep and long-standing relationships with major retailers across the country through which NECA sells over 10 million units of specialty entertainment merchandise yearly.
“The Wrekin Hill team has built a reputation working on such classic indie films as MEMENTO, DONNIE DARKO, THE PRESTIGE and BOONDOCK SAINTS, films that helped ignite the “Fanboy” culture that now dominates the mainstream. The partnership of Wrekin Hill and NECA will create an unprecedented presence within the marketplace: genuine, trusted voices introducing films to the Fanboy community and guiding the conversation about them, from the earliest press announcement through the on-going life of the brand. We are thrilled to be launching this partnership with Spencer Susser’s fantastic film HESHER,” says Ball.
Adds Weinshanker: “We are excited to bring the power of the NECA community and the resources of the Hollywood Movie Gallery acquisition to the world of film distribution. We are uniquely positioned to market these films in innovative ways via our direct relationships with movie lovers. Our colleagues at Wrekin Hill are the perfect partners for this endeavor. We love their taste, their ingenuity and their drive, and are looking forward to our collaboration.”