Hammer Film Productions
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Hammer Film Productions is a film production company in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1934, the company is best known for a series of Gothic "Hammer Horror" films produced from the late 1950s until the 1970s. Hammer also produced science fiction, thrillers and comedies — and in later years, television series. Hammer films were cheap to produce but nonetheless appeared lavish, making use of quality British actors and cleverly designed sets. During its most successful years, Hammer dominated the horror film market, enjoying worldwide distribution and considerable financial success. This success was due, in part, to distribution partnerships with major United States studios, such as Warner Brothers.
During the late 1960s and 1970s the saturation of the horror market by competitors and the loss of American funding forced changes to the previously lucrative Hammer-formula, with varying degrees of success. The company eventually ceased production in the mid-1980s and has remained in effective hibernation since. In 2000 the studio announced plans to begin making films again after being bought by a consortium including advertising guru and art collector Charles Saatchi, but no films have been produced since. In May 2007 the company behind the movies was sold to a group headed by Big Brother creator John de Mol. At least $50m (£25m) will be spent on new horror films after Hammer Film Productions was sold to Dutch consortium Cyrte Investments. The new owners have also acquired the Hammer group's back catalogue.
The term "Hammer Horror" is often used generically to refer to other films of the period made in a similar style by different companies, such as Eros Films, Amicus Productions and Tigon British Film Productions.