Harold Lloyd Library Acquired by Sony Pictures Releasing
CULVER CITY, Calif.
Sony Pictures Releasing (SPR) has acquired domestic theatrical rights to the films of legendary film comedian Harold Lloyd, it was jointly announced today by SPR and The Harold Lloyd Trust. The transaction includes virtually the entire library: shorts and features, silents and talkies. This is the first comprehensive deal for the Lloyd pictures since the early 1970s, when Time-Life briefly distributed re-edited versions of the classic comedies.
Theatrical engagements will begin in early 2005, with retrospectives in major cities, after which the pictures will be available to theatres on an individual basis. The films will be released through SPR's Repertory Division.
All prints will be uncut and struck from newly restored negatives, many of them from the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Most of the silent features and some of the shorts will have newly composed scores recorded on Dolby SR-D tracks, allowing the films to be projected at their original full-frame ratio. (The use of optical sound would require that the left side of the image be sliced off to make room for the soundtrack.)
The collection will also include a "new" Lloyd film of sorts: the 1929 "Welcome, Danger." It was originally shot as a silent, but upon its completion, Lloyd had decided that sound was here to stay, so he revamped it into a talkie. The silent version had never been seen until UCLA restored it earlier this year.
The announcement was made jointly by Michael Schlesinger, Vice President of Sony Pictures Repertory, and by Suzanne Lloyd, Lloyd's granddaughter and President of Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc.
Said Schlesinger, "I'm delighted beyond words to be able to bring Harold back to theatres, where he belongs. Whenever I meet people who say they've never seen a silent movie, I take them to a Lloyd comedy and they become instant converts. Now, I'll no longer have to do so one person at a time."
Noted Ms. Lloyd, "My grandfather holds an historic place in cinema history, and I'm pleased and proud knowing that Sony has taken this important step to let a whole new generation of audiences experience the sheer entertainment of Harold Lloyd on the big screen. The movies have been restored in a way that they deserved to be seen and in a way that preserves the essence of the way they were made."
About Harold Lloyd
Harold Lloyd, one of the most popular and highest-paid stars of his time, was an innovative genius on a par with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton; little known, though, is that Lloyd made more films -- which grossed more -- than those two giants combined.
Probably best remembered from his iconic image as the bespectacled young man dangling desperately from a clock tower in the 1923 classic "Safety Last," Lloyd was the first major comedy filmmaker to succeed by playing an average guy, one with faults and fears, who was just like the boy next door. In fashioning a more "normal" character than his contemporaries, Lloyd in many ways created the archetype of the modern romantic comedy-blending the "high and dizzy" antics of Douglas Fairbanks with the down-to-earth domestic humor of Harold's cohort Charley Chase. He also pioneered new camera techniques and was among the first filmmakers to preview his films for test audiences.
Born in Burchard, Nebraska, Lloyd was interested in acting from an early age and first spent several years with theatrical repertory companies. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1912 and made his film debut as an extra in a 1913 one-reel film for the Edison Film Company. He became friendly with another extra, Hal Roach, and later when Roach formed his own film company, he invited Lloyd to join him.
Lloyd's initial comic characterizations were tramps like Willie Work and Lonesome Luke, a more Chaplin-like figure. Seeking a more original persona, Lloyd came up with an idea that would elevate him to major stardom. In 1917, he shed his grotesque comedy clothes for a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and in so doing, created an American archetype, an optimistic and determined go-getter sporting spectacles and a toothy smile.
Lloyd's motion picture career spanned 35 years and included more than 200 comedies. Among his most famous films are "Grandma's Boy" (1922), "Safety Last!" (1923), "The Freshman" (1925), "For Heaven's Sake!" (1926), "The Kid Brother" (1927), "Speedy" (1928) and "Movie Crazy" (1932). He received an honorary Oscar in 1953 which read "To Harold Lloyd, Master Comedian and Good Citizen." Lloyd's film library is believed to be among the largest privately-held collections in the world.
Harold Lloyd died on March 8, 1971 at the age of 77. Before his death, Lloyd appointed granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd trustee of his film library and manager on all matters relating to his films, his image and his legacy.
Ms. Lloyd enlisted the help of UCLA as well as the David and Lucille Packard Humanitarian Foundation to begin the arduous task of restoring the deteriorating 80-year-old films. The original nitrate negatives were digitized and new scores were written for the silent titles.
In 1989, Ms. Lloyd executive-produced the British documentary, "Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius," written and directed by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. The film was nominated for an Emmy Award® and ran on PBS as part of the Academy Masters Series. In 2002, the book "Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian," which she co-authored with Jeffrey Vance, was published by Abrams.
For more information on Harold Lloyd, please visit www.haroldlloyd.com. Contact: Steve Elzer Senior Vice President, Media Relations Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group (310) 244-7142 firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Sony Pictures Releasing
CONTACT: Steve Elzer, Senior Vice President, Media Relations of Columbia
TriStar Motion Picture Group, +1-310-244-7142, email@example.com
Web site: http://www.haroldlloyd.com/