Known and respected throughout the film industry, Namesake Entertainment has forged new ground in Hollywood by producing high-quality, life-affirming family entertainment for values seeking general audiences. Owners Joe Goodman, Bobby Neutz and Ralph Winter have spent the last decade collaborating with some of the nation’s top authors, agents, publishers and other key industry leaders to create films that are both thought-provoking and family-friendly.
Namesake Entertainment was established in 1996 as a collaboration between Joe Goodman and Bobby Neutz. The Company began by acquiring and brokering production rights and has evolved into an independent production company that manages and oversees all aspects of production, marketing and distribution.
Namesake’s first major project came in 1996 when the Company acquired the rights to the true-life story that became a Television Movie entitled Every Mother’s Worst Fear, starring such notable actors as Cheryl Ladd (“Charlie’s Angels,” Poison Ivy) and Ted McGinley (“Happy Days,” “Married…With Children”). The Company partnered with TV veteran Jean Abounader, and the $3 million production was sold to USA Network, with its first broadcast on August 19, 1998.
Following the success of their first production, Namesake acquired the rights to the screenplay Can of Worms in 1997. Partnering with Gross/Westin Productions, the Company sold the project to The Disney Channel who funded the production as a “Disney Channel Original Movie.” Starring Michael Shulman (“Party of Five”) and Erika Christensen (Traffic, Swimfan, “Six Degrees”), the movie first aired on April 10, 1999 and has subsequently had numerous reruns as well as a successful home video release.
Namesake then acquired the rights to a newly published book series called Left Behind. The Company acquired the film and television rights to the series shortly after the first book was released and long before it became a runaway best-seller. While securing the rights in 1999, Joe and Bobby teamed up with veteran Hollywood producer Ralph Winter (Fantastic Four, X-Men 1, 2 & 3 Planet of the Apes). At the time, Ralph was already a prominent name in Hollywood, having produced two installments of the Star Trek movie series with Paramount as well as the Disney hits Hocus Pocus, Inspector Gadget, and Mighty Joe Young.
With the new team in place, the Company took a significant step toward becoming a full-scale independent production company. Co-producing with Cloud Ten Pictures, Left Behind: The Movie starred Kirk Cameron, well known from his days on the award-winning sitcom Growing Pains.
In 2000, the Namesake team also gained significant experience in the marketing and distributing of films when it distributed Left Behind: The Movie in the domestic market. Using new and innovative strategies as well as an unprecedented grassroots campaign, the Company received tremendous recognition as the film garnered more than $4 million in box office receipts, sold more than 4 million home videos, and became the number one selling independently produced movie of 2000.
The movie and distribution strategy were covered in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, LA Times, GQ Magazine and many other national publications.
In 2002, the Company became a full service independent producer when it produced the film Hangman's Curse. Namesake managed the entire project including rights acquisition, script development, production, editing, financing, marketing and distribution management.
Hangman’s Curse again demonstrated Namesake’s ability to acquire the rights to a property with established brand equity. Hangman’s Curse was the first feature length production of a book written by Frank Peretti, a best-selling author with over 12 million books sold. As Namesake’s first major studio release with Twentieth Century Fox, the film opened in select theatrical markets on September 12, 2003, and went on to earn Fox’s “March Feature Title” for DVD/Video release in 2004. The movie has aired on In Demand, Showtime and ABC Family and has sold internationally in almost every major foreign territory including: France, Germany, and Japan. The success of the Hangman’s Curse initiated a new and strong relationship between Namesake and Fox, allowing them to partner on several more films, as well as combine their unique marketing resources with both Christian and general market audiences.
The next project between the companies was the grassroots marketing push on two non-Namesake produced home video releases: Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ and Love Comes Softly, directed by Michael Landon, Jr.
In October 2004, Namesake began principal photography on their next film project, The Visitation, another best-selling novel by Frank Peretti. Twentieth Century Fox acquired theatrical and video distribution rights for the film starring Martin Donovan (Insomnia, “Traffic”- mini series), Ed Furlong (American History X, Terminator 2), Kelly Lynch (Charlie’s Angels, Cocktail, Roadhouse), and country music star and actor, Randy Travis (Texas Rangers, Black Dog, The Rainmaker). The movie released Nationwide on DVD on February 28, 2006, after a limited theatrical release.
Twentieth Century Fox and Namesake entered into a new, and rare, three-picture distribution deal in 2005. The first film produced under this contract was Thr3e, based on the best-selling novel by Ted Dekker, and starring Marc Blucas (First Daughter, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). Principal photography wrapped in November of 2005, and the movie was released theatrically on January 5, 2007, garnering Namesake its largest theatrical release. The film opened on over 450 screens across the USA and Canada. The home video is set to release on April 24, 2007.
The second film produced in the three-picture distribution deal was House, starring Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2) and Bill Moseley (House of a 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects). The film is based on the best-selling novel by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. Principal photography was completed in August 2006 and the film has an anticipated release of October 2007.
Namesake has also obtained option agreements on several other best-selling novels, including Angela Hunt’s Uncharted and is developing several projects before selecting the third film in the Fox distribution deal.
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