Pat Notaro has moved across the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot to head distribution for TriStar Pictures after a year-and-a-half stint at Columbia Pictures.

Notaro, who was senior veepeeand general sales manager under Col distribution chief Jeff Blake, was named executive veepee of distribution at TriStar. He replaces William C. Soady, who left last month to become CEO of Showscan Corp., which builds film-based simulated motion attractions.

Notaro’s familiarity with Sony was clearly a factor in TriStar’s decision to hire him.

“Having had the opportunity to work with him here was an added bonus,” said Marc Platt, TriStar prexy. “We have a steady flow of product coming up. So it was important that we not miss a beat. And we won’t with Pat.”

Notaro will be put to work quickly, shepherding a series of high-profile pix into theaters in coming months. Among them are the Nicolas Cage starrer “It Could Happen to You,””The Quick and the Dead,” toplining Sharon Stone, and “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” starring Robert De Niro and directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Notaro also will be responsible for Friday’s bow of “Threesome” on 1,200 screens and next week’s release of “Cops and Robbersons” on 1,800.

He and Platt expect little change in the studio’s distribution system. Notaro said hehopes to “maintain the stature that TriStar has had in the distribution business and try to improve on it.”

Platt also said the move “in no way” suggests a merging of TriStar and Columbia distribution arms, something insiders have speculated could happen under the Sony banner.

Notaro got his start in the business working for Pacific Theaters in 1970, where he rose to assistant head film buyer. He then took a job with United Artists Theaters, where he became head film buyer for Southern California. In 1988, he joined the Edwards Theaters Circuit, where he was senior VP and head film buyer.

Since joining Colpix in October 1992, Notaro has used his exhibitor background to help him sell pix and keep them in theaters.

“It gives you the ability to look at things from the perspective of the film buyer,” Notaro said.

Columbia is just beginning the process to fill Notaro’s slot, a spokesman said.

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