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Music publisher Atlantic Screen Group launches second fund for film, TV investment

EXCLUSIVE: Atlantic Screen Group, the film and TV music publisher, has launched a second fund to invest in movies and television.

Unlike its first tax-based fund, Atlantic Screen International can invest in US and foreign-language films.

Among the 20 projects backed by Atlantic Screen Group to date are Dredd, Great Expectations and The Retreat. US features that ASG has invested in include I Alex Cross and The Host.

ASG injects between $20,000 and $250,000 per project in exchange for music publishing rights, having raised in excess of $3 million through its initial fund. ASG’s investment could be very useful for producers looking to cover their music budgets, which are often the first to get squeezed when funding gets tight.

Gary Sinyor, producer of The Retreat, said that the group’s investment covered the budget to his movie’s soundtrack, composed by Ilan Eshkeri (Coriolanus, Young Victoria). “It meant I could put a zero against the music costs,” he said. “The whole thing worked really well. I would definitely do it again.”

Once it owns the score, ASG collects a royalty fee from every movie ticket sold in Europe plus another performing rights royalty each time the film plays on TV anywhere in the world.

Performing Rights Societies across Europe collect in excess of $1 billion a year in film and TV revenues. Broadcasters such as the BBC, Canal Plus and RAI pay up to $2,000 for music rights every time a film plays on TV.

In addition to building up a music library that will continue to pay out for years to come, ASG wants television producers or advertising companies that need music to use its feature-film quality scores.

Both funds are the brainchild of veteran music publisher Tim Hollier and Simon Fawcett, who used to be with film financier Aramid and Pathe UK prior to that.

Fawcett said: “I would say ASI has been opened up to allow a greater concentration of investment in US films and internationally-driven foreign-language films.”

ASG also supervises music publishing for film companies including Ealing Studios (Burke & Hare), Recorded Picture Company (A Dangerous Method) and F&ME, as well as Los Angeles-based Voltage Pictures (The Hurt Locker).

Another unique attraction is that ASG can release the soundtrack album through its Metropolis Movie Music record label. The soundtrack to David Mackenzie’s music-festival-themed You Instead was the first album to be released.

Movie soundtracks are not as popular as they once were. Declining CD sales, piracy and being able to download one track have all eaten into the soundtrack market. The music for Warner Bros’ The Bodyguard has sold close to 40 million albums worldwide. The Twilight soundtrack is the most recent bestselling soundtrack, shifting 3.5 million copies. Simon Dyson, a music industry analyst with Informa, said: “The problem now is that unless a movie soundtrack contains all new releases or new compositions, such as Titanic, individual tracks which are prominent in the film are bought from iTunes.”

Fawcett added: “Atlantic Screen’s funding in film and television so far has allowed producers additional funding to increase their music budgets and enhance the overall value of their productions. Our new fund will allow further expansion of our International Business.”

ASG has appointed Steve Orchard, ex-CEO of radio group Gcap and Classic FM, as chairman. Rory Fellowes, elder brother of Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, has been named director with special responsibility for Irish film production.

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