EXCLUSIVE: Universal’s legendary President of Distribution Nikki Rocco is promoting Nicholas Carpou from EVP/General Sales Manager in Distribution to Co-President of Distribution. “For recognition of his 25 years here and 34 years in the biz,” an insider tells me. “He’s a tremendous right hand to Nikki. It’s time.” Rocco, of course, has been President of Distribution at the studio since 1996 and remains the only top female in the male-dominated field (when she was appointed, all the guys said a woman wouldn’t last six months in the job). She’s been in the business for 44 years. You gotta love it. … UPDATE: Universal has issued a press release announcing the promotion:
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA (May 31, 2011) — Universal Pictures’ President of Distribution Nikki Rocco today announced that as of June 1, Nicholas Carpou will become Co-President of Distribution for the film studio.
Carpou, who currently serves as Executive Vice President of Distribution, has been with Universal for 29 years. In his new role, Carpou will become more involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the studio’s distribution division and at this time will remain responsible for oversight of Canada, the Eastern United States and Puerto Rico. He will continue to report to Rocco and work closely with Executive Vice President, General Sales Manager of Distribution, Mark Gaines and Universal’s sales team.
Read More »
Rebecca Kearey has been promoted to EVP International Marketing and Distribution at Fox Searchlight International. She will continue to oversee international marketing and distribution for Fox Searchlight Pictures and recently took on the same duties at Fox International Productions. She will report to 20th Century Fox International Co-Presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus, as well as Fox Searchlight Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley. “Rebecca has consistently raised the bar on our campaigns and box office results, and we are fortunate to have an executive of her caliber on our team,” Hanneman and Jegeus said in announcing the move. Since 2005, Kearey has shepherded overseas campaigns for such Searchlight films as Black Swan, (500) Days of Summer and Juno.
Relativity Media announced today that it has launched a Television Sales and Digital Distribution Unit that will be led by president David Spiegelman. The group already has closed deals with most digital and video-on-demand platforms and is licensing Relativity films including Limitless, Take Me Home Tonight, Skyline, Season of the Witch, The Warrior’s Way and I Love You Phillip Morris to networks like Turner, Spike TV and Syfy.
Summit Entertainment and Dr. Herbert Kloiber’s Tele Munchen Group have renewed their output deal covering all German-speaking territories through 2013. TMG and Summit have been in business since the latter was formed in 2007, and TMG has distributed the Twilight Saga films and Red. Upcoming films include the final two installments of Twilight Saga, the Jodie Foster-directed Mel Gibson starrer The Beaver, the Sam Worthington starrer Man on a Ledgeand the Bruce Willis-Henry Cavill starrer The Cold Light of Day.
Those 2011 Sundance Film Festival entries keep finding distribution deals. The Cinema Guild acquired U.S. rights to The Interrupters, a documentary about former gang members who disrupt and defuse violent situations as they happen. Pic was directed by Hoop Dreams‘ Steve James and author Alex Kotlowitz. The plan is to open in theaters this summer then broadcast on PBS’ Frontline, with PBC Distribution handling home video and digital in 2012.
UPDATE: The Weinstein Company has confirmed Deadline’s scoop on Erik Lomis. His hiring gives the company a strong distribution executive who was rusting at MGM. (Release is below)
EXCKUSIVE, 12:20 PM: The Weinstein Company is closing a deal with Erik Lomis to become its President of Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment. He’ll oversee releases generated through both the TWC and Dimension labels. Lomis has been in talks for several weeks, but the issue has been time remaining on his contract at MGM, where he has been President of Worldwide Theatrical Distribution, Home Entertainment & Acquisitions. MGM is in the process of remaking itself with an emphasis on production and not distribution, so it’s not surprising that Lomis would be looking to leave. He had just under a year left on his deal, but I’m told those hurdles have been cleared and his appointment is imminent.
Lomis takes the job at a time when TWC is about to release the Julian Schnabel-directed Miral and Dimension is releasing Spy Kids 4, as well as the Timur Bekmambetov-produced “found footage” thriller Apollo 18, the Sundance pic My Idiot Brother, Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus and the Miley Cyrus-starrer So Undercover, among others. It becomes the latest move in TWC’s restructure under Harvey and Bob Weinstein and David Glasser. That restructure has seen Donna Gigliotti become TWC production president, former Miramax production vet Meryl Poster returned to the Weinstein fold as President of Television, and former … Read More »
Don’t you hate when this happens? Distribution departments at each studio wound up overestimating the weekend box office across the board for the Top 10 movies in release. Everyone is claiming it’s an honest mistake, attributing it to the World Cups finals. But we all know that numbers don’t lie even if studios do:
1. Despicable Me (Universal) Old $60.1M, New $56.3M (-6.3%)
2. Eclipse (Summit) Old $33.4M, New $31.7M (-5%)
3. Predators (Fox) Old $25.3M, New $24.7M (-2.3%)
4. Toy Story 3 (Disney) Old $22M, New $21M (-4.5%)
5. Last Airbender (Paramount) Old $17.1M, New $16.6M (-3%)
6. Grown Ups (Sony) Old $16.4M, New $15.8M (-3.6%)
7. Knight and Day (Fox) Old $7.8M, New: $7.7M (-1.3%)
8. Karate Kid (Sony) Old $5.7M, New $5.3M (-7%)
9. The A-Team (Fox) Old $1.8M, New $1.7M (-5.6%)
10. Cyrus (Fox Searchlight) Old $1.3M, New $1.2M (-7.7%)
The founder and CEO of Optimum Releasing is leaving to become a producer with long-time business partner Paul Higgins. It was Higgins who bankrolled Clarke in the first place, setting up Optimum on £13,000 back in 1999. Optimum’s turnover last year was £36 million. I’m told that Clarke personally made £16 million ($24 million) when StudioCanal bought it for £22-25 million in 2006. I suspect that Clarke has always been more of an entrepreneur than a manager. And he has wanted to produce for a long time, steering Optimum towards production with its Brighton Rock remake and comedy Attack the Block.
Danny Perkins, the COO of Optimum who owns 17% of the company, will take over as CEO on September 1, reporting to StudioCanal chairman/CEO Olivier Courson. Optimum has become one of the UK’s most exciting distributors, releasing some of my favourite recent films – A Prophet, Donkey Punch and Eden Lake.
The backbone of the business is that StudioCanal 1,500-title back catalogue, which the distributor repackages into DVDs. Around 500 have been released so far. Optimum is also on board several juicy remakes mined from that catalogue, including Peter Jackson’s 3D The Dambusters. You can imagine how excited we Brits will be sitting in a darkened cinema when the Dambusters March strikes up, with 3D tracer fire zipping past your head.
Casey Affleck, who opens tomorrow playing the lead role of a psycho in The Killer Inside Me, is close to finding a buyer for the mockumentary he directed on the peculiar hip hop career of his brother in law, Joaquin Phoenix. Magnolia Pictures is in talks. The documentary had a polarizing impact on the movie buyers that watched it during a lunchtime screening at WME last month. Phoenix–or the bearded and distant character he was playing–engaged in sordid deeds that included snorting what looked like coke off the breast of a prostitute. Deal’s not done yet but it seems to be headed in that direction.
Buyers See Joaquin Phoenix Mockumentary
Jason Hervey and Eric Bischoff’s reality production company Bischoff Hervey Entertainment TV has signed an overall international distribution deal with Shine International, which will handle distribution for BHE TV’s formats. Shine International already distributes BHE TV’s CMT series Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling, which as been sold in more than 20 territories.
BHE TV has several shows in development and production at VH1, TruTV, A&E, Fuse and Spike TV. Separately, Shine International also is handling distribution for the Gone Too Soon Michael Jackson documentary, which will air in more than 50 countries on June 25, the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, including on the TV Guide Network in the U.S.
Projector.tv, the newest internet movie service, is in talks with local distribs Icon and Artificial Eye. It has already licensed 43 films from Metrodome for its video-on-demand business. The service aims to have 20,000 registered users within two to three years, each buying two to three films each month. London-based Projector also claims to be the first internet VOD service to be screening films during a major film festival.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival has signed a deal with Projector to show 10 features unspooling during the fest. Viewers at home will be able to pay £6.99 ($10.49) to watch fest entries during the June 16-27 event. The titles though are pretty obscure, including Chinese film Fog and docus Girl With Black Balloons and Superhero Me. “From the festival’s point of view, it means that more people can see competition films mostly by first-time filmmakers,” says Projector’s Kobi Prempeh.
Rival internet VOD operator Lovefilm streamed London Film Festival feature Vinyan live at the same time as its fest screening last September.
Projector tells me that it is in talks with other British and US film festivals about streaming their entries.
It has already licensed 2,500 films, of which around 500 are currently available to watch.
Lovefilm, the UK equivalent of Netflix, is the dominant internet movie service over here. It has 1.4 million subscribers – all of whom have access to streamed movies as part of their membership — making it the third-largest subscription movie service … Read More »
Is former Apparition head Bob Berney going to start a new distribution company at Graham King’s GK Films? My sources describe the move as 75% likely. Berney, who abruptly ditched his Apparition partner Bill Pohlad just before boarding a flight to Cannes, is in talks to join King and establish a bonafide distribution company, a story first reported by the LA Times. This comes days after Peter Schlessel agreed to become GK Films president, but the Berney talks have been going on longer. It is evidence that King and partner Tim Headington are intent on building a powerhouse company. While it was Schlessel who brought GK Films into the Sony fold, that only covers two big movies per year. Those first pictures are the Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie drama The Tourist, and the Martin Scorsese-directed The Invention of Hugh Cabret. Berney could jump right in by handling the distribution of the William Monahan-directed London Boulevard with Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley, and the Depp-starrer The Rum Diary, based on the Hunter S. Thompson tale. Schlessel already has a strong relationship with Berney after working on deals because Apparition had its DVD output deal through Sony. Most likely, Sony would remain involved on the DVD side of the GK Films/Berney venture. Between the films that King makes, and the indies that Schlessel and Berney acquire, this could be a strong fit and a much needed new powerhouse player in the indie film distribution … Read More »
UK investors tell me that film distributors not paying sales agents money owed is putting the whole indieprod business at risk. The problem has gotten worse over the last couple of years as the movie market has tightened. All financiers can do is pursue debtors expensively through the courts, with no certainty they will get paid at the end. “It’s putting us in funding jeopardy,” one gap financier tells me.
The job of overseeing indie arbitration falls to the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), an organization which financiers I’ve spoken to accuse of being “toothless”. Investors say that IFTA’s arbitration process between indie sellers and buyers needs to be toughened up.
IFTA says it is well aware of financiers’ complaints. But there’s not a lot it or anybody else can do if somebody is determined not to pay up. Most arbitration cases, it stresses, are settled satisfactorily.
The problem is that distributors are increasingly putting down 20% of a distribution licence to hold a film. The sales agent or producer then finance the movie based on what distributors say they will pay on delivery. But distributors – especially those in smaller or more far-flung territories – are shrugging their shoulders and saying they’ll pay what they want. Often this means 50% of the previously agreed price. Sales agents, mindful of not upsetting future relationships with buyers, urge financiers … Read More »
The Vincenzo Natali-directed Splice opens this weekend with the distinction of being arguably the biggest acquisition to ever emerge from the Sundance Film Festival, based on Dark Castle’s $35 million P&A commitment.
No matter how much business the horror film scares up, it is worth looking back at a quest for domestic distribution that overcame cease and desist letters from Fox lawyers worried about the genetically-manufactured creature’s similarity to the Na’vi creatures of Avatar, and then survived nearly being dumped into a SciFi Channel premiere. Instead, Warner Bros just opened it on 2450 screens.
The track toward production began after Guillermo del Toro, Don Murphy and Susan Montford cornered Natali at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. They’d been fans of his no-budget film Cube, told him they would godfather Natali’s next scripted horror effort, and walked away with the Frankenstein-esque script Splice, and they set off to find distribution. It looked like Fox Atomic was going to finance the film right away. Not only didn’t the filmmakers get a deal, they received the stern cease and desist letter from Fox legal affairs exec Robert Cohen. Deadline got a copy of the missive.
“You can…imagine our dismay when we saw the design for the Dren character in Splice, which is substantially similar to the alien creatures in Avatar and learned that Todd Cherniawsky, a member of the Splice design team, has knowledge of the Avatar designs … Read More »
Charlotte Thorp is leaving the London-based sales agent today to become E1’s new London-based head of TV sales and business development for film, UK and Ireland. Thorp will begin work at E1, whose recent releases include The Twilight Saga: New Moon, on July 1. She joined Hanway from MTV Networks in March 2008.
DISH threatened to drop The Weather Channel last week over complaints that the channel doesn’t provide localized weather reports for satellite viewers. DISH had planned to replace TWC with its own weather-themed channel.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. and ATLANTA – May 24, 2010 – DISH Network L.L.C. and The Weather Channel today announced that they have reached a multi-year agreement for continued distribution of The Weather Channel on DISH Network’s programming platform. The deal provides for collaboration between both companies in developing state-of-the-art, full-time weather forecasting services designed specifically for satellite customers, including localized weather programming on DISH Network Ch. 213 (in addition to The Weather Channel’s main feed on Ch. 214), interactive TV applications, as well as new Internet and mobile services. Deployment of the new services will begin this summer.
“Through this new partnership with The Weather Channel, DISH Network is giving our subscribers exactly what they’ve asked for and more. Not only are we developing a unique satellite service that provides localized weather 24/7, but also we’ll soon deliver personalized weather reports via the Android mobile platform and the web,” said Dave Shull, senior vice president of Programming for DISH Network.
“DISH Network and their customers are extremely important to us, and maintaining and expanding our partnership is a high priority for our company,” said Mike Kelly, CEO and President of The Weather Channel. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Magnolia Pictures acquired US rights to the Alex Gibney-directed untitled documentary about the downfall of New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer. Gibney showed a work in progress version of the film at the Tribeca Film Festival. It chronicles the rise of Spitzer as a law and order attorney general who battled corruption on Wall Street. That led to the Governor’s Mansion, but his rise as a national political star ended when he was caught up in a prostitution scandal. Spitzer, who is resurfacing as a pundit, took his lumps by sitting for interviews with Gibney to explain the demons that took him down. The film was produced by A&E IndieFilms and Wider Film Projects. Cinetic Media made the deal.
The Mike Leigh-directed film Another Year is the first Cannes Festival premiere that has sparked interest from the domestic distributor crowd. Everybody got a look at it this weekend, and I’m hearing that Sony Pictures Classics and The Weinstein Company are in the mix and a deal could happen quick. The film that domestic distributors are most eagerly waiting to see is Biutiful, the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Spanish language film that stars Javier Bardem. The Babel and Amores Perros is a world class auteur. He’s gotten world class deals for his recent movies, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The herd of domestic distributors for prestige pictures has thinned, and many of the survivors don’t usually traffic in foreign language films. Part of the reason is their ancillary output deals exclude subtitled fare.