One of the U.K.’s most iconic brands will be given a new shot in the arm, as British horror legends Hammer Films have announced a deal with Network Distributing to form a newly christened company, Hammer Studios Ltd. The move is intended to both ramp up the restoration (and presumably rereleases) of iconic Hammer properties, and produce new films and projects, according to Variety. The new company will be headed by Network managing director Tim Beddows, financial director Jonathan Lack and Hammer CEO Simon Oakes.
Hammer of course was the progenitor of an entire era in the history of the horror movie genre, starting with 1953’s The Quartermass Xperiment and famously becoming a a mania with the success of films such as The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula in the late 1950s, which modernized the old Universal Monster icons for a new Technicolor age. In recent years, Hammer again turned to horror film production, being more active in the early 2010s with films such as Let Me In, Wake Wood and The Woman in Black. The company then went fairly quiet in recent years, save for last year’s The Lodge, and it seemed as if the Hammer brand might again become relatively dormant.
Network Distributing, on the other hand, is a brand primarily focused on restoration and specialty releasing, having restored iconic British titles such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Prisoner. Together, the newly formed Hammer Studios Ltd. could potentially greenlight new projects involving the likes of Dracula or Dr. Frankenstein—these are, after all, public domain characters, but a Dracula movie with the Hammer banner above it would have an immediate gravitas that others wouldn’t be able to match.
“This partnership is a really exciting opportunity to merge Hammer’s amazing library with Network’s infrastructure,” said Network managing director Tim Beddows. “Whilst we work our way through restoring its entire back catalogue for future generations’ enjoyment, we’re equally excited about the development of new productions from the Hammer canon.”
“This new partnership will, for the first time, professionalize the restoration and creation of elements that are essential for distribution of the Hammer library across all media,” said current Hammer CEO Simon Oakes. “At the same time we will, with Network, be able to build on the legacy of Britain’s most iconic film brand, one that started in 1934 and is alive and kicking in 2021.”