Former United Artists president Bingham Ray has been named president of Kimmel Distribution, the new wholly-owned division of Los Angeles-based financing and production company Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. Jim Tauber, SKE’s president and COO announced Tuesday that Ray will take on the new post immediately and report directly to Tauber. He will divide his time between New York and L.A. Mark Kristol, SKE’s president of marketing and distribution will continue in his role within the division and report to Ray.
Ray will lead the company’s theatrical acquisitions effort for worldwide distribution in conjunction with Kimmel International, according to an announcement. MGM handles distribution of SKE films with some titles released by other studios, including Focus Features, Paramount Vantage and Universal. Going forward, all advertising, publicity, marketing services, creative marketing, and distribution related activities and responsibilities concerning SKE productions and acquisitions will be funneled through the new in-house division working in concert with SKE’s studio distribution partners.
Ray joined UA in September 2001 and during his three-year tenure at the famous label oversaw the releases of “No Man’s Land,” winner of the 2001 Oscar for best foreign-language film, in addition to Academy Award-winners “Bowling for Columbine” by Michael Moore and Terry George‘s Oscar-nominated “Hotel Rwanda.” Following his departure from UA, which has since been re-branded under the leadership of Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, Ray served as a consultant with IFC Entertainment. Prior to UA, he co-founded October Films in 1991 with Jeff Lipsky and served as its co-president until its sale to USA Networks in 1999. Before October, he worked at a number of outfits including New Yorker Films, The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Columbia Pictures and Avenue Pictures.
Upcoming SKE summer releases include Frank Oz‘s “Death at a Funeral” on June 29, the first film to be released via MGM, Kasi Lemmons‘ “Talk to Me” with Don Cheadle being released by Focus and Jon Poll‘s “Charlie Bartlett” on August 3 (MGM) as well as Marc Forster‘s “The Kite Runner” with Dreamworks, while Paramount Vantage will be handling the roll out. SKE is also going into production next month with Charlie Kaufman‘s directorial debut, “Synecdoche, New York,” which will join the company’s ’08 roster.
“Bingham’s vast experience in the marketing, distribution and acquisition of motion pictures combined with Mark’s own talents and experience, positions SKE to more efficiently generate and execute the marketing campaigns and distribution plans for the films we finance, produce and acquire,” commented Tauber in a statement. “By bringing everything in-house, our business model is infinitely better suited to serve our filmmakers and filmmaking partners, providing consistency and concentrated attention to each film.”
“Sidney Kimmel Entertainment is a growing, aggressive motion picture company with a solid business plan, and great taste in films,” added Ray in a statement. “I am particularly partial to its independent spirit, which it has married to a studio sensibility for commercial, cross over films for worldwide audiences. I am genuinely thrilled to play a part in achieving Kimmel Distribution’s long-range goals, taking us through the production and distribution of its many films to come over the next several years.”