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Image Forms Alliance with <I>Hellboy</I> Owner

23 Jun, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Image Entertainment together with Dark Horse Entertainment announced the formation of Dark Horse Home Entertainment (DHHE) for the production, distribution and co-ownership of direct-to-video (DTV) projects as well as theatrical releases, animated content and soundtrack albums.

Initial productions include a horror film (in early 2005) penned and directed by John Landis (The Blues Brothers), in addition to other projects with “Confessions of a B Movie Actor” star and director Bruce Campbell and novelist Neil Gaiman.

Los Angeles-based Dark Horse, which publishes proprietary and licensed comic book material, saw its property Hellboy released earlier this year by Columbia TriStar. Other properties include The Mask (created by Dark Horse founder and president Mike Richardson), Timecop, and Barb Wire with Pam Anderson.

“This is the first time that Image is essentially producing narrative feature films with world-class brands that will go out theatrically and some DTV,” said Barry Gordon, SVP of acquisitions for Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Image. “Dark Horse will continue to make huge budget features for major [studios], but we will be creating an interesting business that will really be more about home entertainment … and retail.”

Upcoming Dark Horse theatrical releases include Son of the Mask (2005) with Jamie Kennedy and Criminal Macabre.

Dark Horse Home Entertainment will create new film franchises and opportunities from both existing Dark Horse properties as well as outside properties, according to company executives.

“Image clearly understands and shares our vision for building an independent juggernaut of compelling and exciting programming,” Richardson said. “We feel really comfortable with the chemistry here.”

Gordon said Eli Roth's Cabin Fever and Campbell's Bubba Ho-tep documentaries represent “shining examples” of the types of films, scope and size the new company hopes to produce.

He said that with Dark Horse's publishing arm and Image's music division, DHHE would be able to build credibility and acceptance through the core comic community before a new movie title comes to theaters.

“There are very few [entertainment] deals and relationships where you can leverage a lot of different media types on the independent level,” Gordon said. “This is sort of like a deal made in heaven.”

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