Fine Line draws int’l sales plan

Mittweg and Ordesky to head new division

New Line specialty house Fine Line Features has launched its own international sales and distribution division, Fine Line Intl., in order to boost its financial resources and brand the Fine Line name on the global film market.

The announcement was made by New Line Intl. president Rolf Mittweg and Fine Line Features prexy Mark Ordesky, who will jointly head FLI.

The forthcoming John Waters comedy “Pecker” will be the first pic to be handled by FLI. The film, which stars Edward Furlong and Christina Ricci, is currently in post-production.

“Fine Line has shown that it can successfully compete in the U.S. market,” said Mittweg. “But we believe that we have the interesting sort of product that can be covered (financially) by international sales.”

In 1997 NLI grossed $286 million in overseas sales, an increase of 13% on 1996.

“We are serious about building this into a proper company,” said Ordesky. “This marks a significant step up financially for Fine Line.”

As part of the creation of FLI, Mittweg and Ordesky have appointed London-based NLI exec Camela Galano to executive VP, FLI. Reporting to Mittweg, Galano will now search for product and cultivate talent relationships in Europe on behalf of FLI, as well as continuing to oversee the key European territories on behalf of NLI.

In addition, London-based FL exec Emma Clarke has been upped to VP, acquisitions and co-productions. She will continue to report to Ordesky.

Mittweg and Ordesky — who acknowledged that FL has been regarded as an unprofitable NL flirtation in the past — plan to up the number of films that the company is involved in from around 9 to a maximum of 15.

“From now on, we will do (at least) 10 to 12 pics a year, and we will look for a more commercial type of movie,” the execs said.

Secondly, NLI’s foreign partners will be asked to pony up funds for FL pics as part of their output deals. “Further down the road, we may have to re-evaluate our deals and establish a FL (distributor) in each territory,” said Mittweg.

In Germany, where NLI currently splits its slate between two local distribs, Concorde and Kinowelt, the latter is already planning to launch its own specialty division, through which FL pics might be distributed.

Other NLI partners, such as the UK’s Entertainment, are expected to continue handling a range of NL/FL films for the time being.

“The key to this is flexibility,” said Mittweg and Ordesky. “This is an opportunistic company, and we don’t want to box ourselves into a corner.”

In North America, FL already has a separate marketing, publicity and distribution budget from its parent company. At present, there are no plans to break out an international marketing budget, however.

FL’s acquisition/production budget is set at around $50 million, and the art division has rarely turned a profit. “This is about branding, about getting the FL name out there on a worldwide basis and making it a profitable division,” the execs said.

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