Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: PMK*BNC has formed a film marketing and distribution department. It will be headed by Marian Koltai-Levine, the former marketing head of Fine Line Features and Picturehouse. Koltai-Levine, who started Zipline Entertainment after Bob Berney’s Picturehouse was shuttered, is bringing her entire staff over to PMK*BNC. The move is to be announced this morning. Koltai-Levine adds another dimension to PMK*BNC, which formed in January when InterPublic merged PR powerhouses PMK/HBH and Bragman Nyman Cafarelli, with BNC’s Michael Nyman and Chris Robichaud running the venture with PMK/HBH’s  Cindi Berger. That merge was a tumultuous undertaking that reshaped the showbiz PR landscape: among other defections, Simon Halls, Robin Baum and Stephen Huvane, left with Andy Gelt to form Slate with Ina Treciokas, and Jennifer Allen and Melissa Kates exited and brought their clients to launch Viewpoint.

Koltai-Levine brings a Zipline staff that includes Nina Baron, Nathalie Kohen, Lee Meltzer, George Nicholis, Freida Orange and Morgan Ressa. Ex-PMK exec Rachel Aberly will run the film operation in Los Angeles and report to New York-based Koltai-Levine. PMK*BNC chairman/CEO Berger would not address whether the firm acquired Zipline.

Koltai-Levine and Berger said their intention isn’t to launch a full-fledged film distribution outfit, but rather to position themselves for the opportunities in providing marketing and occasionally distribution to films that need alternative platforms when big theatrical releases and P&A spends aren’t feasible. Zipline has handled distribution and marketing for a bunch of those films, including the Michael Caine-starrer Is Anybody There?, the Sundance film Backasswards, the Ashley Judd-starrer Helen, and the Nikki Reed-starrer Last Day of Summer. The last two films were done for client E1. Zipline also handled publicity for films that include the Focus Features release The Kids Are All Right.

Among the PR clients brought in by the move are the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the upstart pay channel Epix, and the MOMA New Directors/New Films series. Berger felt that having an established marketing arm will  help her firm’s clients, and Koltai-Levine said that Zipline clients will benefit from the varied departments at PMK*BNC.

“Bringing in Marian allows PMK*BNC to round out its entertainment division with a completely integrated film marketing and communications department, as well as adds distribution capabilities that we’ve never had before,” Berger said in a statement.