Merchant Ivory Films: Library Bought by the Cohen Group

The Cohen Media Group has acquired 30 films produced by Merchant Ivory Productions, for restoration and re-release, including “Howards End,” “Maurice” and “Heat and Dust.”

The overall deal includes the acquisition of the Merchant Ivory brand and the worldwide distribution rights to 21 features, along with nine documentaries and shorts. James Ivory will collaborate with Cohen and serve as creative director, consulting on restoration, re-release and promotion of each of the 30 films.

The deal does not include several high-profile studio-backed films, including “A Room With a View,” “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge,” “Jefferson in Paris” and “Remains of the Day.”

Merchant Ivory was formed by Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory in the early 1960s with the initial aim of making English-language films in India for international audiences.

Its first release was 1963’s “The Householder,” starring Shashi Kapoor, followed by 1965’s “Shakespeare Wallah.”

The company then began shooting in the US and England and became best known for 1992’s “Howards End,” adapted from the E.M. Forster novel. The film was nominated for nine Oscar Awards, including best picture, and won for art direction, best-actress for Emma Thompson and adapted screenplay for Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, their frequent collaborator.

Merchant Ivory titles received 31 Oscar nominations (and won six Oscars) for seven films.

“Merchant Ivory has been a peak on the 20th century cinematic landscape, and we are honored to have James Ivory on our team working on the restoration and re-release of these magnificent films,” Cohen said.

“I’m gratified — and relieved — that Merchant Ivory’s body of work, to which my partner Ismail Merchant and I have dedicated our lives, has been entrusted to the Cohen Film Collection — one that has long demonstrated a deep respect for filmmakers and their legacies,” James Ivory said.

Other titles in the deal include “The Householder,” “Shakespeare Wallah,” “Autobiography of a Princess,” “Bombay Talkie,” “Savages,” “Roseland,” “Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie’s Pictures,” “The Europeans,” “Jane Austen in Manhattan,” “Quartet,” “The Bostonians,” “The Courtesans of Bombay,” “The Deceivers,” “The Perfect Murder,” “The Ballad of the Sad Café,” “In Custody 1994,” “The Proprietor” and “The Mystic Masseur.”

Shorts and documentaries include “The Sword and the Flute,” “Venice: Themes & Variations,” “The Creation of Woman,” “The Delhi Way,” “Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization,” “Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls,” “Mahatma and the Mad Boy,” “Sweet Sounds” and “Street Musicians of Bombay.”