Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has slowly worked its way out of a financial morass, and now chairman/CEO Gary Barber has revived its venerable Orion Pictures label as a full-service distribution company with marketing executive John Hegeman as president. Positioned right before the Toronto acquisitions market, Orion has announced its first release with Michael Sucsy’s young adult romance, “Every Day” (February 2, 2018), starring Angourie Rice, Maria Bello, and Debby Ryan.
Founded in 1978 by the United Artists management troika of Arthur Krim, Eric Pleskow, and Robert Benjamin (partnering with Warner Bros.), Orion Pictures produced and released films and television until 1999. In its prime, Orion was home to four Best Picture Oscar winners: Milos Forman’s “Amadeus” (1984), Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” (1986), Kevin Costner’s “Dances with Wolves” (1990), and Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991). Also landing Best Picture nominations were Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) and Alan Parker’s “Mississippi Burning” (1988). The label also originated James Cameron’s “The Terminator” and “RoboCop,” among other enduring titles.
In a volatile environment, where there are more movies than viable distributors willing to take on substantial marketing and theatrical release costs, MGM now has its own standalone distributor. Orion could be the solution to Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club Encore” problem, for example. The recut (and improved) movie, originally released by Orion in 1984, played at the Telluride Film Festival to raves — but MGM controls the rights.
Adapted by “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” writer Jesse Andrews from David Levithan’s New York Times best-selling novel, “Every Day” follows Rhiannon (Rice), a 16-year-old girl who falls in love with a spirit named A, a traveling soul who wakes each morning in a different body, living a different life every day. “Every Day” is an MGM Pictures production produced by Likely Story and FilmWave.
Hegeman spent over a decade at Orion and is known as an innovative marketing executive who can work on limited budgets. Hegeman will build a theatrical distribution, marketing, and digital team to handle four to six modestly budgeted films a year across multiple genres and platforms, both wide and limited releases.
Most recently, Hegeman worked with Blumhouse Tilt, where he served as division president. BH Tilt is known for exploring new distribution and marketing methods through socially and digitally driven campaigns to reach specific audience segments. He oversaw the wide release of the Orion’s production of James Gunn’s horror thriller, “The Belo Experiment,” as well as Eli Roth’s “The Green Inferno.”