Chris Ball is leaving his post as co-chairman of Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media Group to establish Wrekin Hill Entertainment, a new independently financed production and US distribution company.
Wrekin will be releasing films under its own label and has also licensed the Newmarket Films label - Newmarket was co-founded by Ball and sold to Exclusive late last year - for use on a non-exclusive basis.
Newmarket - which was recently recapitalized to act as Exclusive’s US theatrical distributor - and Wrekin Hill will also jointly release select upcoming titles from Exclusive, including Peter Weir’s The Way Back (Exclusive’s first production), Billy Joel documentary The Last Play at Shea (from Exclusive’s Spitfire Pictures division), and Newmarket’s Sundance acquisition Hesher (pictured). The companies said additional co-ventures with Exclusive are in the works.
Ball will be joined at Wrekin by his long time Newmarket colleagues Rene Cogan (COO-chief financial Officer) and John Crye (president of production and acquisitions). In future, the company will acquire and distribute independently made feature films for all platforms. According to a statement, several acquisitions will be announced shortly as well as a home entertainment distribution partnership.
Exclusive said it will continue to build up its US theatrical releasing activities under the Newmarket label and is planning to appoint new distribution and marketing executives. Newmarket will also, said the statement, “continue an aggressive acquisition strategy as well as servicing the group’s in house productions, where appropriate.” Exclusive will continue managing the Newmarket library of approximately 250 titles.
In the companies’ statement, Exclusive CEO and co-chairman Sinclair said: “We at Exclusive are very excited to be able to continue our great relationship with Chris Ball, Rene Cogan and John Crye, and we look forward to working with Wrekin Hill in the upcoming years”.
Ball said: “Whilst there may be challenges in the independent theatrical world right now, it is also a time of great growth and opportunity as new methods of distribution are being tried and developed. Forming Wrekin Hill will give me and my partners the flexibility to work on a wide variety of films and craft distribution plans that are unique and appropriately scaled for each film we acquire.”