Indie film giant Intermedia is launching into TV with the acquisition of a 24.9% stake in Box TV, the start-up production house run by former Channel 4 executive Gub Neal.
Intermedia will provide Box with working capital and development funds and has an option to increase its shareholding. The sales, financing and production house will also handle worldwide distribution on the bulk of Box's projects.
Since launching last month, Box TV has lined up three projects for Channel 4: Swallow, about a pharmaceutical cover-up, which marks Neal's third collaboration with writer Tony Marchant; Sunday is a Jimmy McGovern-scripted film about the killing of 14 innocent civilians in the so-called Bloody Sunday massacre; and Forty, a collaboration with Bryan Elsley's company Storm Dog, is a four-hour drama about a group of characters turning 40 in the year 2000.
Neal will run Box with two other former Channel 4 executives - Catriona McKenzie, formerly commissioning editor for series, and Johnathan Young, previously commissioning editor for serials. Justin Thomson-Glover, senior business affairs executive at FilmFour, has been recruited as managing director of the new company.
Neal, whose credits include Cracker from a stint at Granada, and his team are regarded as a prime force in defining Channel 4's contemporary, edgy feel with shows including Queer As Folk, Psychos and Young Person's Guide To Becoming A Rockstar. Box is in talks regarding production deals with broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and BSkyB.
In a week when Intermedia shed about 15 London staff in order to bolster US operations, Neal cited the company's worldwide muscle as a reason for the partnership.
"[Intermedia] is the ideal partner for Box and, as a truly global partner in an increasingly global marketplace, will complement our new company both commercially and creatively," he said. "This investment will, we believe, be of huge mutual advantage, both advancing Intermedia's strategy in television and Box's programme making capacities in the widest possible broadcasting arena. We are very much looking forward to a highly creative collaboration with Guy East and his team and believe that this investment is an excellent springboard for a new era of television drama production both in the UK and abroad."
Intermedia's co-chairman, Guy East, said: "Led by Gub Neal, Box TV's team has been responsible for some of the most innovative and commercially successful UK television drama of the past decade and it is very appropriate that this investment should be Intermedia's first move into television. Their collective experience will provide high quality, high impact and sustainable programming for the widest possible market."
Intermedia is also eyeing the TV spin-off potential of its features. Gavin James, Intermedia's vice president of distribution, added: "In addition to Box TV's own programming we also look forward to exploring with them television programming opportunities that may arise from our feature films. Intermedia intends to expand into other areas of television in the near future."
Andy Mayson, Intermedia's chief operating officer, and James negotiated the deal on behalf of Intermedia. Thomson-Glover negotiated on behalf of Box.