In 1973, the face of modern horror cinema changed forever with the release of The Wicker Man, starring screen legend Christopher Lee and veteran character actor Edward Woodward. Now, nearly 40 years later, the time has come for a new offering...

Anchor Bay Films announces the acquisition of the much-anticipated follow-up The Wicker Tree. The film reunites producer Peter Snell with the original helmer, Robin Hardy. Directed by Robin Hardy, based on his acclaimed novel "Cowboys for Christ," and produced by venerable UK company British Lion (who also produced the original), The Wicker Tree will be released theatrically in early 2012, Anchor Bay Entertainment President Bill Clark announced today. Anchor Bay Films has acquired all rights in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. to The Wicker Tree.

"The original The Wicker Man set a standard for literate horror cinema that is still unsurpassed," said Bill Clark. "Now, with The Wicker Tree, we're thrilled to present the follow up of this haunting tale to a new generation."

The Wicker Tree tells the story of singer Beth (newcomer Brittania Nicol) and her cowboy friend Steve (Henry Garrett), two virginal Texans who come to Scotland to spread the gospel. These two innocents don't know what they're getting into as they find themselves trying to spread their chastity message at the estate owned by Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish), who has revived ancient local religious practices when an accident at the nuclear power plant he runs rendered the area men infertile. The Wicker Tree was produced by Peter Snell and Peter Watson-Wood and executive produced by Alistair Gourlay.

Christopher Lee, who played the mysterious Lord Summerisle in the original (in a career that includes Count Dracula and the Frankenstein monster in the classic Hammer films, Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Saruman in The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring), returns again in a dramatic cameo as the "Old Man." Rounding out the cast are Jacqueline Leonard as Lady Delila Morrison, Clive Russell as Beame and Honeysuckle Weeks as Lolly.

British Lion Films has long been one of the UK's premier independent studios. The company, in various forms, dates back to 1919. It has distributed more than 230 films, and produced upwards of 170.

B. Alan Orange