Nolan Gallagher, the CEO of the Cleveland-based film distributor Gravitas Ventures, is stepping down from the company he founded to run a new expansion soccer team he bought last year.
It’s not the typical trajectory for most media execs, of course. After relocating Gravitas Ventures to his hometown of Cleveland in 2019, Gallagher and the distributor’s co-owner Michael Murphy were awarded ownership of a new soccer team through Major League Soccer (MLS) Next Pro in November 2022 (via their nonprofit Cleveland Soccer Group Foundation). The team doesn’t have a name yet, but Gallagher is focusing his full time on the club ahead of kickoff in 2025.
Gallagher will step down effective March 31, 2023. His exit comes on the heels of Anthem Sports & Entertainment’s acquisition of Gravitas Ventures in November 2021.
MLS Next Pro, for those keeping score at home, is within the third tier of American soccer, or the reserve clubs for the MLS. Cleveland’s club joins Rochester New York FC and Carolina Core FC as other recent expansion teams to the league — not that either of those teams’ owners can say they released the Diane Keaton film “Mack & Rita.”
Gravitas since launching in 2006 has released over 3,000 films on VOD, including “Mack & Rita” last year via the new theatrical label Gravitas Premiere. Some of the company’s other recent releases include “Queen Bees” with Ellen Burstyn, “Our Friend” starring Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson, and Jason Segel, the Jackie Chan film “Vanguard,” and “The Secret: Dare to Dream” starring Katie Holmes.
“I and by extension Gravitas have been so fortunate to have collaborated with so many talented directors, producers, actors, and media executive over the last 17 years,” Gallagher said in a statement.
“To have had a front row seat and active hand in the birth, growth, and maturation of how audiences enjoy compelling stories on video on demand has been personally and professionally rewarding. I am thankful to the entire Gravitas team past and especially present and wish them and Len Asper and Anthem Sports & Entertainment continued success in the years to come. The time is right to focus efforts on my next chapter, which is launching a brand-new professional men’s and hopefully soon professional women’s soccer team that will make the Cleveland community proud on and off the field.”
“We thank Nolan for his leadership at Gravitas and wish him well as he starts his next entrepreneurial journey in his hometown,” Anthem CEO Len Asper said in a statement. “In the last year Nolan has worked closely with the Anthem executive team to hire and promote from within the next chapter of Gravitas’ leadership and to help ensure Gravitas’s filmmakers, producers and stakeholders continue to receive world class service. We are working with Nolan and have retained an advisor to identify a successor to lead the excellent senior team at Gravitas and expect to make a decision within the coming months.”
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