HandMade Films

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HandMade Films
Private
Industry Filmmaking, distribution
Founded 1978
Founder George Harrison
Denis O'Brien
Headquarters London, England, UK
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
David Francis
Website Handmade Films Website

HandMade Films is a British film production and distribution company. Notable films from the studio include Monty Python's Life of Brian, Time Bandits and Withnail and I.

History[edit]

HandMade Films was formed by former Beatle George Harrison and business partner Denis O'Brien in 1978 to finance the Monty Python film Life of Brian. Harrison had first been introduced to O'Brien by actor Peter Sellers in 1973. Soon after, the two went into business together.[1]

When the original financiers of Brian, EMI Films, pulled out of the project less than a week before filming was to commence, the creators had to find other financing.[2][3] Harrison, a friend and fan of the Pythons, mortgaged his home in order to finance the feature. Eric Idle of the Pythons later called it "the most anybody's ever paid for a cinema ticket in history".[4] Life of Brian grossed $21 million at the box office in the US.[1]

Harrison explained: "The name of the company came about as a bit of a joke. I'd been to Wooky Hole in Somerset ... [near] an old paper mill where they show you how to make old underpants into paper. So I bought a few rolls, and they had this watermark 'British Handmade Paper' ... So we said ... we'll call it Handmade Films."[1] The first film distributed by HandMade Films was The Long Good Friday (1980), and the first they produced was Time Bandits (1981), a co-scripted project by Monty Python's Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin.[5] The film featured a new song by Harrison, "Dream Away", in the closing credits.[6] Time Bandits became one of HandMade's most successful and acclaimed efforts; with a budget of $5 million, it earned $35 million in the US within ten weeks of its release.[6]

Harrison served as executive producer for 23 films with HandMade, including Mona Lisa, Shanghai Surprise and Withnail and I. He made several cameo appearances in these films, including a role as a nightclub singer in Shanghai Surprise, for which he recorded five new songs.[7] According to Ian Inglis, Harrison's "executive role in HandMade Films helped to sustain British cinema at a time of crisis, producing some of the country's most memorable movies of the 1980s."[8]

Financial problems[edit]

Following a series of box office bombs in the late 1980s and excessive debt incurred by O'Brien, which was guaranteed by Harrison, HandMade's financial situation became precarious.[9][10] The company ceased operations in 1991 and was sold three years later to Paragon Entertainment, a Canadian corporation.[11] Afterwards, Harrison sued O'Brien for $25 million for fraud and negligence, resulting in an $11.6 million judgement in 1996.[12]

Paragon Entertainment[edit]

In 1994, the company was acquired by the Canadian company Paragon Entertainment, which restarted production under the HandMade name.[13] The company's most notable release of that era was Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). In 1999 Patrick Meehan and Cartier Investments acquired HandMade from Paragon.[14][15] In June 2006 the Equator Group plc acquired Handmade Holdings Limited, and in November of that year Sequence Film Limited (a film sales, marketing and financial packaging company) was also acquired. It was subsequently renamed Handmade Films International.[16] The parent company, now known as HandMade plc, is currently publicly traded under the symbol HMF.

On 7 January 2010, the company's shares were suspended on the London AIM stock market pending financial restructuring.[17]

In July 2010, Handmade was purchased for £6.1 million by a syndicate of Jersey-based businessmen, including William Child-Villiers, 10th Earl of Jersey, at which time wealth-manager David Francis was reported to be deciding what to do with the business.[18]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Director Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1970s
1979 Monty Python's Life of Brian Terry Jones 97% (59 reviews)[19] 75% (14 reviews)[20]
A Sense of Freedom John Mackenzie N/A
1980s
1980 The Long Good Friday John Mackenzie 96% (28 reviews)[21] N/A
1981 Time Bandits Terry Gilliam 91% (44 reviews)[22] 79% (18 reviews)[23]
Tattoo Bob Brooks 20% (5 reviews)[24] N/A
Venom Tobe Hooper 50% (6 reviews)[25] N/A
The Burning Tony Maylam 86% (7 reviews)[26] N/A
1982 Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl Terry Hughens (live segments)
Ian MacNaughton (film segments)
N/A
Scrubbers Mai Zetterling N/A
The Missionary Richard Loncraine N/A
Privates on Parade Michael Blakemore N/A
1983 Bullshot Dick Clement N/A
1984 A Private Function Malcolm Mowbray 86% (7 reviews)[27] N/A
1985 Water Dick Clement N/A
1986 Mona Lisa Neil Jordan 97% (30 reviews)[28] N/A
Shanghai Surprise Jim Goddard 13% (8 reviews)[29] N/A
1987 Withnail and I Bruce Robinson 94% (31 reviews)[30] N/A
Bellman and True Richard Loncraine N/A
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne Jack Clayton N/A
1988 Track 29 Nicolas Roeg 67% (6 reviews)[31] N/A
Five Corners Tony Bill 78% (9 reviews)[32] N/A
The Raggedy Rawney Bob Hoskins N/A
1989 Checking Out David Leland 20% (5 reviews)[33] N/A
How to Get Ahead in Advertising Bruce Robinson 57% (14 reviews)[34] N/A
Powwow Highway Jonathan Wacks 100% (9 reviews)[35] N/A
Cold Dog Soup Alan Metter N/A
1990s
1990 Nuns on the Run Jonathan Lynn 47% (19 reviews)[36] N/A
1997 The Wrong Guy David Steinberg N/A
1998 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Guy Ritchie 77% (61 reviews)[37] 66% (30 reviews)[38]
2000s
2006 Eloise: The Animated Series Wes Archer N/A
2008 Manolete Menno Meyjes N/A
Fifty Dead Men Walking Kari Skogland 84% (51 reviews)[39] 57% (16 reviews)[40]
2009 Planet 51 Jorge Blanco 21% (107 reviews)[41] 39% (21 reviews)[42]
Cracks Jordan Scott 43% (49 reviews)[43] 54% (12 reviews)[44]
2010s
2010 127 Hours Danny Boyle 93% (224 reviews)[45] 82% (38 reviews)[46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Harry 2003, p. 211.
  2. ^ HandMade Films at the BFI's Screenonline
  3. ^ Davies 2009, pp. 362–363; Doggett 2009, p. 262.
  4. ^ Doggett 2009, p. 262.
  5. ^ Harry 2003, p. 212.
  6. ^ a b Inglis 2010, p. 83.
  7. ^ Leng 2006, p. 244.
  8. ^ Inglis 2010, p. xvi.
  9. ^ Sellers, Robert (2013). Very Naughty Boys: The Amazing True Stories of HandMade Films. London: Titan Books. ISBN 9781781167083. 
  10. ^ Dawtrey 2002, p. 207.
  11. ^ Harry 2003, pp. 214–15.
  12. ^ Morris, Chris. "George Harrison Wins $11.6 Mill. In Suit Vs. Ex-Partner" Billboard 3 February 1996: 13
  13. ^ Entertainment, Paragon. "PARAGON/HANDMADE FILMS TO MAKE FIVE FEATURES IN FIRST HALF OF 1997". www.prnewswire.co.uk. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  14. ^ "HandMade offering". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. 17 May 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  15. ^ Blackwell, David (16 May 2006). "HandMade set for Aim after £15m deal". Financial Times. Pearson PLC. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "HandMade plc". Financial Times. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  17. ^ Allen, Katie (2010-01-07). "Aim-listed HandMade films asks for share suspension". The Guardian. London. 
  18. ^ Adler, Tim (2010-07-22). "Handmade Film Backers Buy It Back". Deadline. London. 
  19. ^ "Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  20. ^ "Life of Brian (re-release) Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  21. ^ "The Long Good Friday (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  22. ^ "Time Bandits (1981)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  23. ^ "Time Bandits Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  24. ^ "Tattoo (1981)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  25. ^ "Venom (1981)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  26. ^ "The Burning (1981)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  27. ^ "A Private Function (1985)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  28. ^ "Mona Lisa (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  29. ^ "Shanghai Surprise (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  30. ^ "Withnail and I (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  31. ^ "Track 29 (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  32. ^ "Five Corners (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  33. ^ "Checking Out (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  34. ^ "How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  35. ^ "Powwow Highway (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  36. ^ "Nuns on the Run (1990)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  37. ^ "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  38. ^ "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  39. ^ "Fifty Dead Men Walking (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  40. ^ "Fifty Dead Men Walking Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  41. ^ "Planet 51 (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  42. ^ "Planet 51 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  43. ^ "Cracks (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  44. ^ "Cracks Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  45. ^ "127 Hours (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 
  46. ^ "127 Hours Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 26, 2018. 

External links[edit]