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Independent motion picture studio After Dark Films was formed in 2006 by director/filmmaker, Courtney Solomon and Hong Kong-based real estate magnate, Allan Zeman. After Dark Films first release was “An American Haunting” (2006) starring Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland. Solomon wrote, produced, directed, marketed and distributed “An American Haunting” under the newly formed After Dark Films banner.
In September 2006, Solomon and Zeman inked a marketing and distribution deal with Lionsgate Entertainment under which After Dark Films would handle marketing and theatrical release for its films while Lionsgate would handle the distribution of all other media. In November of that year, After Dark Films launched “8 Films to Die For: After Dark Horrorfest,” an annual weekend-long theatrical event, featuring eight never before seen horror films in 500 theatres across the country. A new concept, Horrorfest was intended to establish and brand the ultimate horror film event of the year. For its initial three day weekend, Horrorfest grossed over $2.5 million, ranking #10 nationwide with an impressive $5,000+ screen average. All other titles in the top ten screened on more than three times the number of screens.
Those initial 8 Films to Die For were released by Lionsgate in Spring of 2007, selling dramatically more than comparable direct-to-video releases. After Dark’s Horrorfest is now an established, eagerly awaited annual event, covered by genre, niche and mainstream media outlets nationwide and internationally. In addition to 32+ genre films for Horrorfest, After Dark has produced, marketed and theatrically released such high-profile independent films as “Captivity,” “Wristcutters,” “Skinwalkers,” “Fierce People,” “The Echelon Conspiracy” and “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.”
In 2010, After Dark Films announced its partnership with Lionsgate and NBC Universal’s SyFy in the development and production of a new slate of horror films, the After Dark Originals (ADO).
Building on the success of the After Dark Horrorfest 8 Films To Die For ® brand and drawing on talented filmmakers and performers from Horrorfest’s acquisitions over the past 4 years, After Dark has taken the horror festival concept to a higher level. With The Originals, After Dark has taken full control of content, from script concept through final editing. The first installment of ADO includes “Husk,” “Fertile Ground,” “Scream Of The Banshee,” “Prowl,” “The Task,” “Re-Kill,” “Seconds Apart” and “51.” Notable directors and writers include Brett Simmons, whose short film “Husk” took Sundance by storm several years ago, Steven C. Miller of “Automaton Transfusion” fame, and previous After Dark writer/director Adam Gierasch (“Autopsy”). All ADO films were shot in the US and Bulgaria.
Types of films in distributor’s slate:
After Dark Films is perhaps best known for Horror films, released as part of our annual Horrorfest: 8 Films to Die For theatrical event. However, our Autonomous Films division is known for distinguished, high-quality American independent features, starring Academy-Award winning actors and A-list talent. Today, with the advent of our new Originals brand, After Dark has become a mini-major, responsible for developing quality genre and indie projects from concept to release.
Advice for filmmakers:
Make a phone call or send an email about your project. If you don’t pick up the phone you’ll never know whether or not you have the film that a particular distributor is searching for. We’ve had finished films submitted to us directly from filmmakers that ended up getting released so don’t be shy about approaching a company.
Who handles acquisitions:
Dana Lambert, VP Acquisitions
Number of films released theatrically each year:
In 2010: we will release 16. Ordinarily, 10+
Distribution platforms other than theatrical:
DVD, TV and V.O.D.
Number of films released exclusively via VOD/DVD or “alternative” means of release:
All 8 Originals will be released theatrically, in the same format as Horrorfest.
Number of films acquired at festivals:
Prior to 2010, approximately 20 or so films from our four years of Horrorfest: 8 films to Die For, were acquired at festivals or between festivals. As of 2010, with the advent of our Originals slate (8 films produced annually) ADF is focusing more on production, although we continue to scout finished films.
Festivals where distributor has acquired films in the last two years:
Sundance, Tribeca, LAFF, Cannes Market, Berlin Market