Sony Classics taps Prassis sales veep

NEW YORK — Sony Pictures Classics has hired 20-year film industry vet Tom Prassis to fill the newly created position of VP of sales.

Prassis joins the arthouse division of Sony Pictures Entertainment from October Films, where he served as a consultant on the wide release of David Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” and the Academy runs of Mike Leigh’s “Secrets & Lies” and Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves.”

In 1996, Prassis served as head of distribution for Artificial Eye, where he was responsible for the U.S. release of French-language pics “Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud” and “Rendezvous in Paris.” Before Artificial Eye, Prassis worked for Shining Excalibur, the private company formed by Miramax Films co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein to release the NC-17-rated “Kids.”

At Sony Pictures Classics, Prassis joins a management team that includes co-presidents Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom and VP of acquisitions Dylan Leiner. “Sony Pictures Classics has been consistently successful for many years, distributing the highest quality films in the marketplace,” Prassis said. “I have known Michael, Tom and Marcie since all of our careers began, and it is a pleasure to be a member of their team.”

Commenting on the hire, Bernard said, “We have known Tom for many, many years, and his skill as a salesman and the respect he has earned in the distribution community is unparalleled. The fact that he is now working for us will surely make our position in the competitive specialized marketplace even stronger.”

Prassis began his career as the manager of the Fifth Avenue Cinema in Portland, Ore. In 1981, he was hired by director Wim Wenders and producer Chris Sievernich to form Gray City Inc. to release all of Wenders’ films in addition to those by other independent directors.In 1988, Prassis joined Original Cinema as VP of marketing and distribution, where he singlehandedly released Juzo Itami’s “A Taxing Woman.”

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