Source: New York Times
Film producer John Heyman passed away on the morning of June 9 2017.
Film producer and financier John Heyman who founded influential British agency International Artists and the World Group Companies, died Friday in New York, his family told Variety via statement. He was 84.
“John Heyman passed away in his sleep today, Friday the 9th of June,” the statement read.
His son, David Heyman, is the producer of the Harry Potter films, among many others.
Heyman’s World Film Sales pioneered the foreign pre-sales of films on a territory by territory basis.
John Heyman produced films including “The Go-Between” (1971), family sci-fi film “D.A.R.Y.L.” (1985) and “The Jesus Film” (1979). He was also an uncredited executive producer on David Lean’s 1984 E.M. Forster adaptation “A Passage to India.”
Over the course of his career he arranged financing of more than $3 billion to co-finance films including “Awakenings” and “The Odessa File” (at Columbia), “Edward Scissorhands,” “Home Alone” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Fox), “Victor/Victoria” and “Trail of the Pink Panther” (MGM), “Black Rain,” “Chinatown,” “Grease,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” “Marathon Man,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (Paramount), “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes” (Warner Bros.) and “The Man Who Would Be King” (Allied Artists).
Heyman’s International Artists Agency, at the time the largest independent artists’ agency outside the U.S., repped top talent including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but in 1961 IAA launched the subsidiary World Film Sales, which ushered in a hugely important innovation for the movie industry when it became the first company to pre-sell and license films territory by territory.
Heyman pioneered structured financing in 1962 because, while vehicles for Elizabeth Taylor were easy to set up, he needed money for films that would feature working actors like Trevor Howard and Jack Hawkins.
World Film Sales was sold to ITC in 1973. Eventually Heyman built up what would be called the World Group of Companies Limited, through which, over the span of more than four decades, he served as producer, co-producer, packager, co-financier, and/or distributor of numerous films that have grossed a total of more than $7 billion.
He also financed or produced plays, including the longest-running “Hamlet” in Broadway starring Richard Burton and directed by John Gielgud. That production was adapted for film and became the first feature Heyman produced in 1964.
The films packaged, financed or produced by World Group received more than 180 Academy Award nominations and 26 Oscars.
World Productions in London became the largest independent producer of television drama in the U.K. and the only company to have had programs airing on all five U.K. terrestrial channels in one year.
Heyman produced some 15 films, including “The Go-Between” and “The Hireling,” which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971 and 1973, respectively. The former, directed by Joseph Losey from a clever screenplay by Harold Pinter and starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates, was a period drama with much to say about sexual politics and class consciousness in pre-WWI Britain. The latter film, directed by Alan Bridges and starring Sarah Miles and Robert Shaw, was also about class, with the story this time centering on a romance between an aristocrat and her chauffeur.
The Heyman-produced “Privilege” (1967), directed by Peter Watkins, imagined a future Britain in which the masses were controlled through their manipulated adoration of a tortured pop star. Heyman produced two films directed by Losey in 1968: “Boom!,” which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Tennessee Williams’ adaptation of his own play, and “Secret Ceremony,” which starred Taylor and Mia Farrow as two women uncertain if they are mother and daughter.