Stewart Mackinnon’s London and Newcastle-based film and TV production outfit Headline Pictures (the outfit behind Quartet and The Invisible Woman) has confirmed details of a groundbreaking new strategic partnership

Headline has signed an exclusive contract with Edelman, the world’s biggest PR company which represents over 3000 brands.

Edelman will bring brands looking for the opportunity to invest in film and TV content to Headline. Meanwhile, the production company will suggest projects which may fit the profile of Edelman brands.

“It is not product placement. They simply want the right - they are paying for the right - to be associated (with the film and TV projects Headline is making),” Mackinnon explained.

“From Edelman’s point of view, if we are leaders in our field, which we are, and our clients are leaders in their field, which they are, then any content that we produce must only be made by filmmakers and content makers who are leaders in their field,” Jackie Cooper, Edelman Global Vice-Chairman, Brand Properties, commented of the company’s alliance with Headline.

“In general, consumers are getting smarter and smarter. It’s no longer enough for James Bond to be wearing a certain type of sunglasses or holding a certain type of soft drink,” Jere Sullivan, Chairman of Global Public Affairs, Edelman, commented.

The exact nature of the Edelman/Headline alliance is yet to be confirmed. “Each project is bespoke,” Cooper commented. “In the same way, there is care given to scriptwriting, directing and production, there has got to be the same care with the brand partnership.This is not celebrity endorsement or product placement. This is trying to understand from the very formation of the script where the ethos of the story is going, the personality of the film and the issues that may come up as part of the script.”

Cooper said that Edelman wasn’t dismissing product placement altogether. “It’s just that this relationship is starting much earlier on in the process. It’s a commercial arrangement in terms that the brand will pay to have that partnership and be involved from the beginning.”

Meanwhile, Headline has also struck a deal with multinational computing giant Microsoft to develop a 13 part drama series. “It is a thriller that chimes with what Microsoft are concerned with,” Mackinnon said. The Headline boss raised the possibility that this project (full details of which are yet to be announced) will be launched first as a film.

Last week, it was announced that Microsoft had hired Nancy Tellem (ex-CBS) to head up production of original video content for the company’s Xbox console.

Headline’s new feature Quartet, the directorial debut from actor Dustin Hoffman, premiered in Toronto. As Headline’s principals have revealed, the film - set in a retirement home for opera singers and starring Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay - is now set to receive an international launch almost identical to that of Oscar winner The King’s Speech.

Momentum will be releasing Quartet (sold by HanWay) in the UK on Jan 4. (Momentum also gave The King’s Speech an early January release.) The Weinstein Company releases the film in the US on Dec 28. Other prominent distributors aboard include Transmission for Australia/New Zealand, DCM for Germany, Bim for Italy and Pyramide for France.

As was recently announced, Michael Douglas is in line to star as Ronald Reagan in Headline’s forthcoming feature Reykjavik, with Mike Newell in talks to direct. This is being developed in partnership with Participant and Scott Free. The film is about the groundbreaking meeting in Iceland between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that prompted the end of the Cold War.

Christian Baute, Headline’s head of production, has confirmed that the film is due to shoot next March in Berlin (at Babelsberg) and in Reykjavik. A prominent British actor is expected to be announced to play Gorbachev shortly. HanWay is handling the sales with Senator on board as German partners. Headline is also preparing a documentary to stand alongside the feature film.

Headline originally developed the project with the BBC but the Beeb withdrew when it became apparent that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did not feature prominently in the story.

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Among the consultants on the project is Ken Adelman, a special advisor to Reagan during the superpower summits.

Other forthcoming Headline projects include The Invisible Woman, directed by Ralph Fiennes and starring Fiennes and Felicity Jones, and long-gestating Alec And May.

The company has a first-look deal with Freemantle Media for its TV projects. Headline’s current TV slate includes Drivers, the 13 x 1 hour series scripted by Michael Hirst that Headline is developing with Scott Free, the 8 x 1 hour Philip K Dick adaptation The Man In The High Castle, also being developed with Scott Free, and the Adrian Hodges-scripted Peter Pan, in development with BBC TV. Headline has also been developing a Peter Pan movie sequel, Peter Pan In Scarlet.