Left Bank Pictures
|Industry||Film and television production|
|Owner||Sony Pictures Television|
|Parent||Sony Pictures Entertainment|
Left Bank Pictures (stylized as LEFT BANK Pictures) is an English film and television production company. It was formed in 2007 by Andy Harries, formerly controller of drama, comedy and film at Granada Productions, and Francis Hopkinson and Marigo Kehoe. The company is the first British media company to receive investment from BBC Worldwide, the commercial venture of the BBC; BBC Worldwide took a 25% equity stake, worth £1 million, in Left Bank in exchange for first-look distribution rights on all television productions. The company operates both television and film production departments. Key personnel are managing director Marigo Kehoe, formerly head of production in Harries' drama department at Granada, Francis Hopkinson, formerly senior commissioning editor of drama at Channel 4, and Suzanne Mackie, formerly director of development at Harbour Pictures.
Left Bank Pictures was founded in 2007 by Andy Harries, formerly controller of drama, comedy and film at Granada Productions, Francis Hopkinson and Marigo Kehoe. The company is the first British media company to receive equity investment from BBC Worldwide, the commercial venture of the BBC. BBC Worldwide took a 25% stake, worth £1 million, in Left Bank in exchange for first-look distribution rights on all television productions, in a five-year deal. Some critics were concerned about a conflict of interest for the publicly funded BBC; in The Guardian, Steve Hewlett wrote that the deal could be a "back-door way of getting around the rules preventing the BBC producing programmes for its British rivals". Hewlett also commented that the investment might limit Left Bank's future prospects, as it was "tied to" the BBC. Harries defended the investment, stating that both Martin Sorrell and Richard Branson had been approached to invest in the company but both wanted a complete acquisition rather than just a share. Harries also approached Jon Feltheimer at Lionsgate.
In January 2008, Left Bank took a 15% stake in struggling production company Hardy & Sons, with a view to relaunching it as a drama and documentary production unit with BBC Worldwide. Left Bank Pictures had a turnover of £5.5 million its first year, with at least £20 million predicted for the second. In December 2008, Left Bank Pictures was one of many independent production companies to receive the production vision award from the UK Film Council. The award part-funded Left Bank's film development slate. In February 2009, Suzanne Mackie, formerly head of development at Harbour Pictures, joined the company as head of film.
Hopkinson announced his departure in 2011 to take up a new position with ITV Studios. Michael Casey joined the company, taking on the development slate, and Simon Lupton joined the comedy department. The company was put up for sale for £40 million on 6 April 2012. On 5 July 2012, Sony Pictures Television made a deal to acquire Left Bank for £40 million. The sale was completed on 23 August 2012, with SPT becoming the majority shareholder, and BBC Worldwide, Harries and Kehoe reducing their stake in the company. BBC Worldwide reduced its stake from 25% to 12.2%. Sony Pictures Television intends to build Left Bank's international productions.
Left Bank Pictures' first television commission was Wallander, a television adaptation of Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels. The first series was filmed on location in Skåne, Sweden in the summer of 2008, and broadcast in November and December 2008. The series won the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series. The BBC announced the commissioning of a second series in May 2009. Filming ran over the summer again and the series was broadcast in January 2010.
In March 2008, it was announced that Left Bank would be producing Strike Back, a six-part series for Sky1 based on Chris Ryan's novel. The production, starring Richard Armitage and Andrew Lincoln, was filmed on location in South Africa in 2009 for broadcast on Sky1 and Sky1 HD in 2010. Also in 2008, Left Bank produced its first feature film; The Damned United was directed by Tom Hooper from a script adapted by Peter Morgan from David Peace's novel The Damned Utd.
2008 also saw Left Bank's first commission for Channel 4; Kids School of Comedy, a pilot sketch show, was produced for the Comedy Lab strand, and was based on a stage show in which Andy Harries' son performed. A six-part School of Comedy series was commissioned by E4 and was broadcast in 2009. A second series has since been commissioned. At the end of 2008, Left Bank received its first commission from ITV, to produce Frank Deasy's four-part serial drama Father & Son. The drama was co-financed by ITV, the Irish broadcaster RTÉ and the Irish Film Board. The production was based in Dublin, where most of the programme was filmed, even though it was set in Manchester, England. RTÉ broadcast the drama in 2009, and it went on to win the Irish Film and Television Award for Best Single Drama/Drama Serial category. It was broadcast on ITV1 in June 2010.
In 2009, Left Bank produced the six-part romantic comedy series Married Single Other for ITV. The series stars Ralf Little, Shaun Dooley, Lucy Davis, Miranda Raison, Amanda Abbington and Dean Lennox Kelly, and was filmed on location in Leeds. It was broadcast on ITV1 in February and March 2010. In 2010, Left Bank produced an adaptation of Peter Robinson's Aftermath for ITV, starring Stephen Tompkinson as DCI Banks, and Zen, an adaptation of three of Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen novels, which was filmed on location in Italy for BBC Scotland. In 2011, Sky1 broadcast the first series of Left Bank's Mad Dogs, starring John Simm, Philip Glenister, Marc Warren and Max Beesley, and Optimum Releasing will distribute the feature film Rafta Rafta.
Left Bank is in development on the features Another Brick in the Wall about the children from the titular Pink Floyd track, the Monty Python-based No Naughty Bits, and Gaza, about a Jewish doctor.
- Wallander (2008−present)
- Father & Son (2009)
- School of Comedy (2009−2010, piloted in 2008)
- Married Single Other (2010)
- Strike Back (2010−present) (co-produced by Cinemax in 2011)
- DCI Banks (2010−present)
- Zen (2011)
- Mad Dogs (2011−present)
- Strike Back: Project Dawn (2011)
- Cardinal Burns (2012)
- Loving Miss Hatto — TV film
- The Ice Cream Girls (2013)
- Outlander (2014−present) (co-produced by Sony Pictures Television)
- The Damned United (2009) (Distributed by Columbia Pictures)
- The Lady (2011) (Distributed by EuropaCorp (France), Entertainment Film Distributors (UK), Cohen Media Group (US), and Golden Scene Company Limited (Hong Kong))
- Rafta, Rafta (awaiting release)
- Broadcast Award for Best Independent Production Company (2011) — Won
- Announcing LEFT BANK PICTURES a unique collaboration of film & television talent (10 May 2007) Press release. URL retrieved on 17 May 2008.
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- [Staff] (12 February 2010). "Married Single Other: Leeds landmarks feature on TV show". Yorkshire Evening Post (Johnston Publishing). URL retrieved 12 February 2010.
- Allen, Katie (20 July 2009). "Bank on it". The Bookseller. URL retrieved on 24 March 2010.
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- Deans, Jason (5 May 2010). "John Simm and Philip Glenister to star in Sky1's Mad Dogs". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News & Media). URL retrieved on 6 May 2010.
- Cooper, Sarah (16 September 2010). "Rafta Rafta". ScreenDaily.com (Emap Media). URL retrieved on 3 January 2011.
- "Winners 2011". Emap Awards. URL retrieved on 5 February 2011.