Paragon nails deal to create the first Hammer horror attractions

ATTRACTIONS company Paragon Entertainment is to create the first ever ‘Hammer House of Horror’ visitor attractions and is looking for its first site in central London.

The York-based company, which worked on York’s Sweet Story and Belfast’s Titanic exhibition, has signed an agreement with Exclusive Media for the rights to use the ‘Hammer’ brand and media to develop, build and operate the attractions.

The worldwide exclusive agreement gives Paragon access to Hammer’s film catalogue and intellectual property. It will run for 10 years and provides for further extensions.

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Hammer has a long history of cult horror productions.

It started with classics such as The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958), and is also known for the 1980s Hammer House of Horror British television series, consisting of 13 50-minute episodes, which was broadcast on ITV.

Each episode featured a different kind of horror, varying from witches, werewolves, ghosts, devil worship, voodoo, cannibalism, confinement and serial killers.

Channel 4 put Hammer House of Horror at No.50 in its ‘100 Scariest Moments’ show.

More recently, Hammer returned to the horror scene with The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe, which broke UK box office records and received critical acclaim.

Hammer’s next release will be The Quiet Ones starring Jared Harris and Sam Claflin.

Paragon, which is currently looking for suitable locations, said the deal is in line with its strategy to create a portfolio of diversified family attractions.

Its long term goal is to create a significant entertainments business.

Mark Pyrah, Paragon’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have secured Hammer and to be working with such a strong brand. This combination of heritage and contemporary intellectual property is unique and we believe that the public demand for Hammer is considerable.”

Simon Oakes, chief executive and president of Hammer Film, said: “We are excited to be working with Paragon. They are one of the leading companies in the UK who have a deep understanding of what UK customers want in terms of exciting visitor attractions.

“This deal with Paragon gives Hammer another exciting way to give our audiences and fans a chance to get involved with the characters and worlds created in our films and take fans to the next level in terms of visitor attraction and experience.”

In October, Paragon signed a licensing agreement with Hasbro International to operate a series of NERF-branded attractions.

NERF guns, made by toy manufacturer Hasbro, fire foam bullets and have become a very popular new toy.

Paragon believes that the increasing trend for ‘stay-cations’ where holidaymakers stay at home will offer it considerable opportunities.

Late last year it bought York-based Paragon Creative for about £4m in cash and shares through a reverse takeover, changing its name from Marwyn Capital to Paragon Entertainment.

The listed design, production and fit-out firm has an £11m order pipeline to work on attractions over the next 18 months.

Potential projects total more than £50m, and Paragon said structural changes are leading to a “resurgence of opportunities”.

“People want quality entertainment,” said Mr Pyrah. “People are still spending their money on entertainment. The industry has seen not massive growth but good growth over the last two to three years primarily with people staying at home (in the UK).”

Paragon has worked on the Sea City Museum in Southampton and the Cairo Centre for Children’s Creativity.

The Egyptian project was awarded Best International Project at the Museum and Heritage Awards 2012.

Three-quarters of Paragon’s projects are international, and it also worked on schemes including an aquarium in Istanbul. It is also working on developing its own attractions. Quest is a Crystal Maze-style adventure concept, featuring a number of challenges and Urban Adventure is a high wire concept, which Paragon believes will be ideally suited to dead space in shopping centres.

It hopes to develop a number of these as owned or licensed attractions.

In April it bought London-based project management firm The Visitor Attraction Company (TVAC), funded through a £300,000 share issue. TVAC’s projects include The London Olympic Legacy, ArcelorMittal Orbit and The British Olympic Experience. In May it also started working with design consultants Drinkall Dean, as it steps up work in the retail sector.