UK distributor Tartan Films has gone into administration, ending months of speculation.

The business, founded in 1982 by Hamish McAlpine, is believed to have made more than 20 staff redundant.

The news has come as no surprise after months of discussion about the company's finance.

Last year, the business restructured with veteran managing director Laura De Casto leaving the business. Head of acquisitions Jane Giles also left the business to become head of content at the British Film Institute. Other veterans who left the company in recent months included publicity veteran Sarah Bemand.

The company announced a $6m investment package in November 2007 but sources said that ultimately fell through. The company has announced no new acquisitions since that time.

Tartan's next planned release, documentary Crazy Love, has been pulled from its planned July release at cinemas including London's Renoir.

Earlier this month, the company closed its Tartan Video USA division, which had been set up in 2004. It sold off its 100-film library with Palisades Media taking US rights to a catalogue which included Korean director Park Chan-wook cult hits Oldboy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance.

The company was best known for its championing of horror titles and Asian cinema. Its pioneering Asia Extreme video line was particularly influential and included films such as Hard Boiled, Audition and Battle Royale.

Other successful titles among 300 films released in the UK were The Cooler, Super Size Me, Capturing the Friedmans, Secretary and The Triplets of Belleville.

'It's a sad day,' said Mark Batey, CEO of the Film Distributors Association.

'The company had an extrordinary track record of distributing films from all over the world and it has become a brand in the way that not many publishers of intellectual property in any sector have managed.'

Construction family member McAlpine launched Tartan Films in the UK in 1984 -- it merged with Metro Pictures to create Metro Tartan in 1992 and later reverted to the Tartan Films banner.

Tartan's most recent UK theatrical releases were I'm A Cyborg, Mister Lonely, Funny Games and P2. McAlpine also served as a producer of Michael Haneke's US remake of Funny Games, which was a box-office flop.

The company's biggest-ever theatrical hit was a £1.1m take in 2004 for Mogan Spurlock's Super Size Me, followed by £1.06m for Secretary in 2003 and £1.04m for The Last Seduction in 1994.

Tartan head Hamish McAlpine hasn't returned calls seeking comment, and calls go unanswered at the company's London headquarters.

The news that Tartan Films has gone into administration may not be a surprise but the timing was.
'That's a very good question,' one sales agent which has licenced many films to Tartan stated when asked what would now happen to those films. 'We only found out two or three hours ago. I don't know whether they (Tartan) hold their assets. It all depends on the terms of their bankruptcy or whatever they are doing.'
Other distributors are already beginning to eye Tartan's famed library which includes everything from more than 30 Ingmar Bergman titles to Asian horror (released under the Asia Extreme label), Paul Verhoeven movies (among them Black Book), old Almodovar titles, Pasolini and Ozu classics, Battle In Heaven, The Machinist and many other titles. The question now is whether the catalogue will be kept together or broken up.