Black Bear Announces Launch of UK Distribution Business, Sets International Leadership Team

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Black Bear International, the newly created international division of Black Bear Pictures, headed by John Friedberg, has set the senior leadership team for the business and recently secured rights to sought-after titles "Conclave" and "Knox Goes Away."

New senior leadership includes Llewellyn Radley, Laura Austin Little, Jill Silfen and Mike Shanks who all join Friedberg at the new venture, having previously worked together at STX International. Llewellyn Radley joins as EVP, International and UK MD and will lead the launch of Black Bear's direct distribution business in the UK, reporting to Friedberg.


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The company will release 12-15 films per year, including Black Bear productions and international and UK acquisitions. Black Bear UK has already secured UK rights to two sought-after titles – Conclave, directed by Edward Berger and starring Ralph Fiennes, Stanley Tucci and John Lithgow, and Knox Goes Away, starring and directed by Michael Keaton. Entering the UK direct distribution market strategically complements Black Bear's Canadian distribution operation, Elevation Pictures, led by Laurie May and Noah Segal.

Laura Austin Little joins as EVP, International Sales and will oversee the sales and licensing of Black Bear International's slate of titles. Before joining STX, Austin Little held senior sales roles at Lakeshore Entertainment, Annapurna, and Exclusive Media.

Jill Silfen joins as General Counsel. Prior to STX, Silfen was EVP of Business Affairs at Miramax, and ran her own private practice working for major studios and streamers, including A24, Amazon and Focus.

Mike Shanks joins as COO of the international group, overseeing all aspects of finance and operations for the international and UK businesses. Prior to STX, Shanks held senior finance roles at companies including eOne and Sky.


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Announcing the news, John Friedberg said "I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Llewellyn, Laura, Jill and Mike to the Black Bear family. Over recent years, they have shown themselves to be an exceptionally diligent and capable group of executives. I look forward to building on our close working relationship as we establish Black Bear International as a force in the marketplace, and launch a dynamic new UK distribution business."

Black Bear International is committed to the international sales and distribution of premium film and television, spearheading the international sales and distribution of Black Bear's robust slate of projects, aggressively securing international and territorial-specific rights to critical and commercially driven content, and opportunistically producing and packaging projects to bolster Black Bear International's slate. 

Black Bear International is preparing for a busy Toronto, where the company will launch officially, both with new projects for international and acquiring films for the UK.

About Black Bear Pictures

Founded in 2011 by Teddy Schwarzman, Black Bear is one of the world's leading independent studios, focused on creating premium content for a global audience while offering creators and filmmakers an unparalleled destination for creative collaboration.


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Black Bear's film library includes such commercial and critical hits as The Imitation Game, I Care A Lot, Mudbound, and All Is Lost. The current slate includes Neil Burger's The Marsh King's Daughter starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn for STX Films; Dave Franco's Somebody I Used to Know for Amazon; and NYAD, starring Annette Bening and Jodie Foster, directed by Academy Award® winners Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi for Netflix.

Black Bear's television slate includes such projects as an adaptation of Naoise Dolan's bestselling novel "Exciting Times," written by Dolan and Cooper Raiff who will direct, with Bridgerton's Phoebe Dynevor set to star at Amazon; an adaptation of Tracy Deonn's bestselling novel, "Legendborn," with Felicia Henderson set to showrun; and Scott Cooper's adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winning article, "Angels & Demons."


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Black Bear recently announced the creation of Double Agent, a joint venture with New Regency run by Dana O'Keefe, which will focus exclusively on the production and financing of premium unscripted content and Black Bear International, which handles international sales and distribution rights to premium film and television content across genres.  Black Bear's management division represents such auteur filmmakers as Johan Renck, Morten Tyldum, Michaël Roskam, David Slade, John Hillcoat.

In addition, Black Bear owns Elevation Pictures, the leading independent film distributor in Canada.

For more information: www.blackbearpictures.com, Instagram: @blackbearpics, Twitter: @blackbearpics

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