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Exclusive Interview: Producers Simon Oakes and Nigel Sinclair Talk Hammer Horror and More for The Woman in Black

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In honor of CBS Films’ upcoming release of The Woman in Black in US theaters tomorrow, February 3rd, Dread Central recently had the opportunity to chat with two producers on the latest out of the Hammer horror stable, Simon Oakes and Nigel Sinclair.

Both Oakes and Sinclair were integral to the relaunch of Hammer Films in 2010. In 2007 Oakes (Vice-Chairman of Exclusive Media Group) and Marc Schipper (Exclusive Media COO) led the acquisition and recapitalization of Hammer, and Oakes now serves as its President and CEO. Sinclair, the Co-Chairman and CEO of Exclusive Media, came on board Hammer as a non-executive director in 2007 after his other production studio, Spitfire, locked in a first-look development and production pact with the newly revived British horror studio at the same time.

During our interview with Sinclair and Oakes, Dread chatted with the pair about Hammer’s legacy of horror, their thoughts on The Woman in Black with Radcliffe as the film’s lead and more about what the future holds for the iconic Hammer brand. Check out the highlights from our exclusive interview with the producing duo below, and make sure to check out The Woman in Black when she arrives to terrorize audiences tomorrow!

Dread Central: Had you both been huge Hammer Horror fans before coming on board the company a few years back?

Nigel Sinclair: I’m probably one of the oldest Hammer fans because I can remember watching it at an incredibly young age on the BBC and my parents then banning me from the television because of it.

Simon Oakes: If you grew up in the UK when we did, Hammer Horror was part of your cultural education. My first Technicolor movie was from Hammer, and The Quatermass Xperiment still remains one of my favorite movies to this day.

DC: So I’m guessing that was part of why you got involved with resurrecting Hammer then?

Oakes: Absolutely! But also, I think from our business point of view, Hammer Films has always been an extraordinary brand, somewhat similar to Disney (although a different scale completely). When you talk about a ‘Disney movie,’ you know what kind of movie that means, and the same could be said for Hammer. People know Hammer Horror still to this day even though a Hammer movie hadn’t been made in 35 years until Let Me In. We saw how unique that kind of staying power is so we knew we had to bring the brand back to life.

Sinclair: Since we are part of a larger production company, we were determined to bring some power back to this indie company and do it the right way. It’s one thing to say that you’re going to build a company; it’s another thing to actually be able to bring a new vision in that pays tribute to the original Hammer production values and do it successfully. I think with The Woman in Black we’ve finally gotten there 100 percent.

Oakes: When we first started talking about resurrecting Hammer Films a few years back, we all sat down, and because we are fans, we talked for a long, long time about what Hammer would be now had it always continued making movies. So we’ve always known that the key to a great classic horror movie is having elevated stories that are very writer/director-driven pieces, and both Let Me In and The Woman in Black reflect that definitively.

DC: Can you talk a little bit about what fans can expect from The Woman in Black since we don’t see a lot of horror movies like this make it into theaters anymore?

Sinclair: Well, I think there’s a lot to enjoy here for fans of the novella, fans of Daniel’s or even if you’ve never heard of the story before now. Susan’s novella created this lush, 19th century world filled with these Gothic tropes, and seeing how Jane (writer Goldman) took even some of the more thinly-suggested scares of the novel and gave them room to breathe here is pretty fun to watch as a horror movie fan.

Oakes: A lot of wonderful things came together on this project, and we’re incredibly lucky that they did; having Daniel as our star for the movie was the cherry on top for sure. With this being his first part after Harry Potter, I think it was an incredibly smart move for him because it’s still a familiar territory for him (a British story), but it also pushes him in a new direction. He’s so incredibly talented, and he does a great job as Arthur in the film.

DC: Do you feel some added pressure with the fact that there is a high expectation amongst horror fans when you have a Hammer-branded project?

Sinclair: We are in the long-distance run for this (Hammer Films) so no one good or bad piece of news will derail us along the way. I thought Let Me In was incredible, but then The Resident didn’t fare so well with fans, so we learn as we go. But we’ve got more planned for Hammer besides films, which includes an upcoming book at Random House which we’re all excited to see come out soon. We are working on a number of things right now, too, but those we can’t really discuss just yet.

DC: Since Hammer has done incredible work with both original material as well as remakes, is there a Hammer remake you’d love to see happen down the road?

Oakes: If I could have one dream remake at Hammer, it would have to be making a contemporary Quatermass Xperiment – or maybe a Countess Dracula. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a great female vampire movie after all.

Check out our review of The Woman in Black here!

Joining star Daniel Radcliffe are Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White, Alisa Khazanova, Tim McMullan, Roger Allam, Daniel Cerqueira, Shaun Dooley, Mary Stockley, Cathy Sara, David Burke, Victor McGuire, and Lucy May Barker. James Watkins (Eden Lake) is at the directorial helm with a screenplay by Jane Goldman.

The Woman in Black follows a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), who is ordered to travel to a remote corner of the UK and sort out a recently deceased client’s papers. As he works alone in an old and isolated house, Kipps begins to uncover its tragic secrets, and his unease grows when he discovers that the local village is held hostage by the ghost of a scorned woman set on vengeance.

Look for The Woman in Black in US theatres on February 3rd, 2012. The UK will be getting it on February 10th, 2012.

Go Behind-the-Scenes of The Woman in Black

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