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Becker exec will handle int’l at Hoyts distribbery

Sheffield astute with acquisitions, CEO sez

SYDNEY — Hoyts Distribution, the fledgling Oz theatrical distrib banner of Hoyts Cinemas, has tapped Richard Sheffield as head of international acquisitions, effective immediately.

Sheffield joined Hoyts from indie distrib Becker Entertainment, which he has headed since February following stints spearheading the Oz operation of Polygram Film Distributors and its successor Universal Pictures Intl.

Hoyts flagged its intention to re-enter distribution in Australia and New Zealand last month (Daily Variety Aug. 6) to handle local films produced by sister firm Nine Films & Television as well as international pick-ups.

“It’s a great opportunity given the synergies with (Kerry Packer-owned stablemates) the Nine network, ACP magazines and everything else. There’s a chance to develop something really good here,” Sheffield said Monday, noting his long friendships with Hoyts CEO Paul Johnson and Hoyts Distribution managing director Robert Slaviero.

The new role will dovetail with Sheffield’s sidelines as a consultant to overseas indie producers and as an exec producer of Oz films such as Bill Bennett’s “The Nugget,” toplining Eric Bana. He’ll rep Hoyts Distribution at the Mifed bazaar in Milan.

Johnson tells Daily Variety he rates Sheffield as “the most astute” of the available people with expertise in acquisitions, citing his track record at Becker Entertainment’s predecessor REP, which he co-founded with principal Richard Becker in 1987, and Polygram.

Becker said he was disappointed to lose Sheffield and he’s looking for a replacement. Becker’s upcoming release slate includes Phillip Noyce’s “Rabbit-Proof Fence,” Michael Apted’s “Enigma,” Chen Kaige’s “Killing Me Softly,” Bill Bennett’s “Tempted” and John McKay’s “Crush.”

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