Sony Classics team to reup

PARK CITY, Utah – Sony Pictures Classics co-presidents Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom are in final talks to renew their contracts with corporate parent Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony sources said Sunday.

The sources indicated their contracts had not yet been signed, but the trio planned to remain in the Sony family for another five years. An announcement is expected later this week.

Barker, Bernard and Bloom’s existing five-year employment pacts with Sony expire Feb. 1. The team’s decision to stay on ends speculation that the veteran specialized film execs would ankle to start a classics division at Paramount Pictures.

It also demonstrates SPE’s continued commitment to the arthouse market under the new regime of SPE president and chief operating officer John Calley, who came aboard last fall.

Calley is said to be impressed with the SPC trio’s expertise in marketing pics with international appeal.

An island of calm

While the management ranks of SPE were marked by upheaval during their four-year tenure, Gotham-based Barker, Bernard and Bloom remained unscathed by the turmoil on the Culver City lot.

They distributed several Oscar-winning films, including ”Indochine,” ”Burnt by the Sun,” ”Belle Epoque” and the best docu 1996 winner, ”Anne Frank Remembered.”

Track record

Other hits they helped foster include 1992’s ”Howards End,” the Merchant Ivory film that grossed more than $75 million worldwide. More recently, SPC has scored at the box office with John Sayles’ ”Lone Star,” which it shared with Castle Rock Entertainment, and Todd Solondz’s ”Welcome to the Dollhouse,” which played the Sundance Festival last year.

Barker and Bernard have been on the acquisitions trail during the last week in Sundance, picking up Errol Morris’ ”Fast, Cheap & Out of Control” and Cedric Klapisch’s ”When the Cat’s Away,” a French-language film. Bloom was not in Park City this year because she is recuperating from a serious illness.

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