International sales executive John Fremes has been named Head of International at indie production and sales group Nu Image/Millennium Films. He will report to company principals Avi Lerner and Trevor Short. Fremes will work in tandem with Mark Gill, who in June was named president of Nu Image’s production arm Millennium Films, and will oversee international sales, distribution and marketing of Millennium’s produced projects. Gill will manage development, financing and production of the company’s slate of eight to 10 projects annually. Fremes recently oversaw international sales, distribution and business affairs as president of worldwide distribution at Essential Entertainment, working on titles including Barney’s Version, The Expatriate and Defiance. Before that, he was president of Element Film International. Fremes founded Fusion International Sales Corp in 1999 and was founding president of Le Monde Entertainment Sales Corp, a division of Alliance Atlantis Communications.
Fremes is currently attending the Berlinale with Nu Image/Millennium’s project slate including Lovelace with Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard, The Iceman with Michael Shannon and Winona Ryder, Killing Season starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta and The Expendables 2 starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Jet Li.
EXCLUSIVE: A deal is near for Millennium Entertainment to acquire U.S. distribution rights to the Los Angeles Film Festival opening-night pic Bernie. I’m told that it will be the first significant grab for former Film Department co-head Mark Gill since he took the reins of Avi Lerner’s company (UPDATE: reps for the company claim Gill was not involved, though he released Linklater’s Before Sunrise while running Warner Independent, and those reps said the deal was made by Millennium Entertainment’s Bill Lee and Vincent Scordino). The minimum guarantee will be around $2 million with a P&A commitment of around $1 million and the deal should be done by Monday.
Inspired by a true story, the film stars Jack Black as the title character, an amiable funeral director who kills a rich widow (Shirley MacLaine) and creates a ruse that she’s still alive. Matthew McConaughey also stars in a film that’s directed by Richard Linklater. He directed Black in School of Rock and McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. Pic’s a coproduction between Mandalay Vision and Wind Dancer. Cinetic’s John Sloss and WME Global’s Graham Taylor are making the deal. Another deal is in the offing for Canada, putting the North American rights in the $3 million range. The deal certainly helps the LAFF as a showcase for acquisitions, which always helps a festival seem viable.
Exclusive: The Film Department Shutters
LOS ANGELES, CA — Former Miramax Films and Warner Independent president Mark Gill has been named President of Millennium Films. The company plans to produce and finance five to eight star-driven, wide-release films per year with budgets between $20 and $80 million.
Gill will work closely with Nu Image/Millennium Films toppers Avi Lerner and Trevor Short and development head Boaz Davidson, starting in July, with particular focus on development, packaging, production and marketing.
Gill has 25 years of film business experience and a production track record of more than $1 billion at the box office.
Read More »
Here’s the announcement from Mark Gill and Neil Sacker:
The Film Department announced today that it is in negotiation with investors who prefer to keep the company in private hands for $200 million in equity and debt that will be used to finance the production, acquisition and U.S. release of 5-10 films per year. As a result, the company has withdrawn its registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
6 AM: SEC filings show that Mark Gill’s and Neil Sacker’s The Film Department has cut the price of its expected IPO again — this time by more than half to $6 a share. Obviously, the reason for the public offering is to raise money for this production, finance, and international sales movie indie which also wants a domestic distribution arm. But this just may not be the right time economy-wise considering even powerhouse private equity firm KKR’s recent IPO was flat. The Film Department first filed for an IPO in December at between $12 to $14 a share price to raise $100M, and this is the 2nd time it has trimmed its share price. The problem now is that the cut-price IPO may not even cover The Film Department’s $25M of outstanding debt.