Civilian Content, parent company of National Lottery franchise The Film Consortium, has secured an international sales operation by agreeing to acquire the majority of The Sales Co. (Screen Daily Sept 25, 2000)

Civilian, which already owns 25% of the sales Co through the Consortium, has taken two further 25% holdings owned by media concern Zenith and the now defunct funding body British Screen Finance. The publicly-listed company said it will implement "a fast-track corporate growth plan" for the sales operation, one of the UK's longest established international sales outfits.

Testifying to the Consortium's ongoing commitment to the operation, the Sales Co is to handle sales on Dr Sleep, a mystery horror title which BBC Films and the franchise have put on the fast-track to production. Photographing Fairies' Nick Willing is to direct, while Born Romantic's Michele Camarda, who now has a first-look deal with Pathe Pictures, is producing.

"With the backing of Civilian Content, and in partnership with BBC Films and BBC Worldwide, we shall now be able to expand the company," said Chris Auty, Film Consortium chief executive and chair of The Sales Co. "The Sales Company has been consistently profitable for many years, and we shall now build on its well-established brand identity and historical record."

The Sales Co, in which BBC commercial arm BBC Worldwide also has a 25% stake, this week unveiled AFM sales including a deal with Japan's Shochiku on Milcho Manchevski's $12m action drama Dust. Japan's Comstock took Udayan Prasad's Gabriel And Me, a comedy written by Billy Elliot's Lee Hall starring Iain Glen and Billy Connolly. Additionally, Strand Releasing took Italian title Princessa for the US. Other deals saw Prooptiki taking Ken Loach's The Navigators for Greece and Vision taking Dust for Poland.

"The Sales Co is an enormously valuable part of making our films travel internationally, and has been particularly imaginative at handling authorially driven films," said David Thompson, head of BBC Films.

The Sales Co is currently headed by the BBC's Jane Wright as acting chief executive after the departure of Alison Thompson last year. Key members of Wright's team include sales executive Joy Wong.

"The new structure of The Sales Co will encourage a consolidated approach to a future strategy for the company and enhance its reputation as one of the UK's pre-eminent sales companies for independent movies", said Wright.