The indie film community has been waiting for the unveiling of indie distributor Bob Berney's latest incarnation. Finally, after his short-lived stint at FilmDistrict, Berney is rebooting the Picturehouse label that he co-founded in 2005, which was later shuttered by partners New Line Cinema and HBO Films.
It's smart to have an established label for a new indie theatrical distributor; Berney acquired the trademark and logo from Warner Bros. And it also doesn't hurt to have an exclusive multi-year output deal for the U.S. with Netflix and a first-look relationship with Warner Bros. Pictures International for films to which it has international distribution rights.
Their first release will be Nimród Antal's "Metallica Through The Never," a fiction feature starring members of the rock band and Dane DeHaan ("Chronicle," "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"), which will hit theaters on August 9 and shortly after that, on Netflix.
“Nim and the band have made a film that really captures the spirit of Metallica and their millions of loyal fans,” said Mr. Berney, who will serve as CEO with Jeanne Berney as President of the relaunched New York-based company. “It’s an entertaining genre film with a concert inside it, a fun ride featuring an exciting young actor, Dane DeHaan. It’s a very cool project to reboot Picturehouse with.”
Picturehouse will head to Sundance ready to acquire, market and theatrically distribute independent films from the U.S. and around the world. The company expects to release two or three films this year, increasing its output to four or five in 2014 and six or seven in subsequent years.
“Bob and Jeanne are legendary tastemakers and innovators who were early partners with Netflix in bringing amazing movies like Pan's Labyrinth and La Vie en Rose to our service,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “Netflix members love independent films and the Berneys have indisputably great taste.”Picturehouse acquired and released Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning "Pan’s Labyrinth"; Olivier Dahan’s "La Vie en Rose" (winner of two Academy Awards, including best actress for Marion Cotillard); Sergei Bodrov’s "Mongol"; Robert Altman’s "A Prairie Home Companion"; and Seth Gordon’s documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters." When Time Warner folded the operations of New Line and Picturehouse into the Warner Bros. family, the brand continued to live on through the home entertainment and television releases of the films.
Berney has also overseen the U.S. theatrical releases of blockbusters such as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "The Passion of the Christ" as well as critically hailed films including Christopher Nolan’s "Memento," Alfonso Cuaron’s "Y Tu Mamá También" and Niki Caro’s "Whale Rider."
As President, Theatrical Distribution of FilmDistrict, Berney released "Insidious," "Soul Surfer," "Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark" and "Drive," which in total grossed over $150 million in domestic box office. Previously, as CEO of Apparition, Berney presided over the release of "Bright Star," "Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day," "The Young Victoria" and "The Runaways."
Entertainment marketing veteran Jeanne Berney most recently served as Executive Vice President of Marketing at FilmDistrict. Before that, she was Executive Vice President of Marketing and Administration for Apparition, Director of Public Relations and Marketing at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and ran the Film and Digital Entertainment Group at Rogers & Cowan and held publicity and promotion positions at Rysher Entertainment, Savoy Pictures and Miramax Films.