In the week that Winchester unveiled a string of Hollywood partnerships, the UK entertainment outfit has bolstered its British production presence with a long-term deal with Mark Thomas, producer of Up 'N' Under and Rancid Aluminium.
Winchester will look to Thomas to source and produce commercially-oriented, $5m-$7m projects with strong marketing hooks. The company has previously backed UK titles such as hit comedy Shooting Fish.
The deal, Winchester's first long-term pact with a UK producer, is exclusive for 100 days and is then on a first-look basis. The agreement will run for an initial twelve months, with the intention to extend the relationship.
Two projects are likely to go into production in the first 100 days, possibly kicking off with Bulletproof, like Shooting Fish, a scam film. Leading commercials director Andy Morahan, whose feature credits include Highlander 3, is directing the film, about a disc jockey who swindles assorted drug dealers and gangsters.
Thomas, whose other credits include an executive producing stint on Dreaming Of Joseph Lees for Twentieth Century Fox, is also developing another project with Up 'N' Under director John Godber, a romantic comedy titled Passion Killers. Also in the works are the comedy Aura, developed with the Welsh Media Agency, and Poor Circulation, about two journalists inventing the news.
"Mark has his finger on the pulse," said Winchester chief Gary Smith. "He attracts projects, but equally, he attracts good quality talent."
Meanwhile, Winchester has sold a host of territories at AFM, with Kinowelt taking four titles including Southie and Lighthouse for Eastern Europe. Vision Africa took a raft of titles for South Africa including Another Life. Nu Vision picked up Latin American rights on films such as Muggers, while Shapira acquired titles including Wild About Harry for Israel.
WMS picked up Southie and Another Life for Poland and Pioneer took films including Muggers for the Philippines. For Turkey, Umut Sanat acquired a package including Muggers. Multiple titles also went to Mongkol for Thailand and Scholar for Taiwan.
Other recent deals saw Paradiso taking Southie for the Benelux and Italia Film picking up Lighthouse for the Middle East.