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New Indie Distributor Focuses on Public-Domain Titles

24 Sep, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

A vast majority of the 3,000-plus titles found in new indie distributor The Film Detective's library are in the public domain. It's what the Rockport, Mass.-based company is doing with the likes of Night of the Living Dead and early "Sherlock Holmes" films that makes the company stand out, according to company founder Phil Hopkins.

"My bailiwick over the years has been to get the best versions of these films out into the industry," said Hopkins, co-founder of movie restoration and distribution company Film Chest. "In the past we were limited by home entertainment technology, with the source masters for DVD often being the same that had been used for VHS. Blu-ray has been a real game-changer."

Hopkins’ new venture is looking to release up to 20 digitally remastered titles on disc each month, and syndicate its programming for broadcast and digital distribution. Every title in Film Chest's library is transferred from original film elements, Hopkins said, with most restored in high-def. Netflix, Epix, NBC, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and Hulu are among those already licensing Film Detective content, he added.

"They appreciate that we take the time with these public-domain movies, improving them, making them the best they can be," Hopkins said. "And I want to get deep into the catalog, really get some of these out on Blu-ray for the first time."

Among the initial remastered discs on tap from Film Detective: A Bucket of Blood (1959), Angel and the Badman (1947), Beat the Devil (1953), Carnival of Souls (1962), D.O.A. (1950), Dementia 13 (1963), Dick Tracy’s Dilemma (1947), Go for Broke (1951), Kansas City Confidential (1952), Love Affair (1939), My Favorite Brunette (1947), My Man Godfrey (1936), Night of the Living Dead (1968), Nothing Sacred (1937), Salt of the Earth (1954), Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942), Sherlock Homes: Dressed to Kill (1946), Smash Up: The Story of a Woman (1947), The Big Lift (1950), The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962), The Inspector General (1949), The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954), The Red House (1947), The Stranger (1946) and The Terror (1963).

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