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March 24, 2005 2:00 AM
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Berney to Head New HBO/New Line Theatrical Distribution Company

Berney to Head New HBO/New Line Theatrical Distribution Company

by Brian Brooks









Bob Berney with his wife Jeanne Berney at last month's Independent Spirit Awards. Berney will head a new theatrical unit created by HBO and New Line. Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE.

HBO and New Line Cinema are teaming up to create a new distribution company that will be headed by Newmarket Films chief Bob Berney. Details of the new entity are still to be announced, but the unnamed company is essentially acquiring Newmarket's current theatrical distribution arm and plans to fold New Line's Fine Line division into the new company.

"HBO and New Line are partnering on a new distribution company, which will be headed by Bob Berney," explained Michael Lynne, co-chairman and co-CEO of New Line during a conference call with press on Wednesday afternoon. "The two companies, in effect, are acquiring the Newmarket theatrical distribution division, which will serve as a foundation of this new independent film distribution entity co-owned by HBO and New Line." Lynne emphasized in the call that no decisions have been made regarding which staff from the various companies will become a part of the new entity.

"The sale of the unit to HBO makes considerable sense: that unit has proven themselves in the market against the specialty units of the studios," said Will Tyrer, Partner of Newmarket Film Group in a statement released following the conference call. "The boom in that market has seen independents effectively becoming mini-majors, where costs, while attractive to studios, can still be prohibitive to the creative nature of indie film. Newmarket will return to our original goal of financing, and distributing the work of independent filmmakers."

Newmarket has marketed and distributed a number of successful independent films, including Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," with Icon Pictures; critically acclaimed "Monster," which garnered Charlize Theron the Best Actress Academy Award; and "Whale Rider," for which 13-year-old Keisha Castle Hughes earned a Best Actress nomination. Newmarket's catalog is not a part of the deal.

Berney will report to New Line's Michael Lynne and Colin Callender, president of HBO Films.

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