Banner exits talent biz to focus on pix

NEW YORK — Banner Entertainment is exiting the talent management business to focus on producing, acquiring and distributing low-budget films, the company said Monday.

As part of the shift, partner Brian Swardstrom is leaving Banner, which remains at its Sunset Blvd. offices in L.A. Mickey Liddell, who founded the company with Swardstrom in 1994, remains a principal. Bob Berney heads Banner’s distribution division, Matt Freeman is in charge of production and Eric Suddleson is running the company’s business operations.

Liddell told Daily Variety Banner’s investors have determined the company’s growth potential lies in feature production and distribution, not talent management. The company plans to produce four to five features in the $2 million-$6 million range and to acquire approximately the same number of pics annually, Liddell said.

Banner’s first release, “Telling Lies in America,” is now in theaters. Being readied are Banner productions “Under Heaven” and “Delivered” and the newly acquired “The Climb.” The company also is in pre-production on “Go” and has several projects in development.

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