October Machine-ready

Specialized film distrib near foreign sales deal

NEW YORK — October Films, the Gotham-based specialized film distributor that is majority-owned by Universal Studios, is expected to announce shortly that Good Machine Inc. will become its exclusive foreign sales agent.

October has generally acquired only the North American rights to arthouse films. An alliance with Good Machine would give it the ability to acquire worldwide rights and would also help the company generate additional revenues and offset risk as it moves into production.

Both Miramax Films and New Line Cinema — the leaders in the specialized film business —have separate foreign sales divisions.

Founded by James Schamus and Ted Hope, Good Machine is best known for producing the films of Ang Lee and Edward Burns.

The company has expanded its capabilities beyond producing, however. It recently attracted foreign sales exec David Linde away from Miramax and launched a producers service organization to finance, produce, sell and market pics on behalf of filmmakers such as Todd Solondz (“Welcome to the Dollhouse”) and Nicole Holofcener (“Walking and Talking”).

Renewed relationship

Before joining Good Machine, Linde held discussions about heading the foreign sales division that October was planning to start. October and Linde renewed their relationship earlier this year when the company agreed to distribute Solondz’ next project, which is being produced by Good Machine.

Good Machine, which has a first-look production deal with Twentieth Century Fox, was among those interviewed by Paramount vice chairman Rob Friedman in his search for a team to run the studio’s new classics division.

Sources close to Good Machine said that Hope, Schamus and Linde were no longer in the running for the Paramount classics job.

The alliance with Good Machine is part of a major overhaul that has been occurring since Universal agreed to acquire 51% of the company earlier this year. October co-managing director Amir Malin recently ankled to become co-president of Live Entertainment.

Former Miramax senior vice president Scott Greenstein is expected to be named as Malin’s replacement. Greenstein will become part of a triumvirate that includes co-managing directors Bingham Ray and John Schmidt, another Miramax veteran.

Also on October’s drawing board is a new genre division designed to mimic Miramax’s Dimension banner, which hit paydirt with Wes Craven’s “Scream” and other films. Like New Line in the 1980s, Miramax has found the arthouse/haunted house combination to be a winning formula.

In 1996, October moved up in the league of arthouse distribs by scoring critical and financial success with such releases as Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves” and Mike Leigh’s “Secrets & Lies.”

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