Civilian shows Holmes the door

Auty named film group's new MD

LONDON — Richard Holmes has been ousted as managing director of Civilian Content, the publicly-quoted parent of lottery franchise The Film Consortium. He has been replaced by The Film Consortium’s chief exec, Chris Auty.

Holmes’s exit raises doubts about whether the company remains committed to the populist filmmaking strategy he spearheaded.

The exec shake-up also resolves a power struggle between Holmes and Auty in Auty’s favor. For the past two years, Auty has effectively not reported to Holmes.

It is understood that Holmes’s departure was triggered by The Film Consortium’s decision to greenlight Kristian Levring’s £3 million ($4.5 million) arthouse pic “Innocence” against his wishes.

Auty convinced the Civilian board to overrule Holmes and support the project. Civilian also felt it needed an MD with greater experience in television, a business the company is expanding.

Acquiring other TV companies is in the cards. The plan is to balance Civilian 50/50 between film and TV. The company also wants to focus more on financing and sales rather than developing projects with long lead times.

Auty’s background is film, not TV. Vet TV exec David Elstein, however, has taken on the post of deputy chairman of Civilian. He was previously a non-exec director.

Meanwhile, Aline Perry, CEO of Civilian’s film sales subsid The Sales Co, has been made a board director of both Civilian and The Film Consortium.

Holmes will return to being an independent producer. Stefan Schwartz’s “The Abduction Club,” which he produced for Pathe, is due next year.

The management changes were announced with Civilian’s interim results.

The company posted a loss of $1.1 million, up from $884,000 the previous year, on sales of $3.4 million, up 40%.

The Film Consortium has two years left to run on its six-year lottery franchise, which gives it access to around $7.5 million in lottery coin to co-finance British movies.

The company came close to having its franchise stripped at the mid-term review last year, because its films have underperformed so badly thus far. But Civilian had only recently taken over control of The Film Consortium, so the Film Council decided to back the ability of Holmes and Auty to turn things around.

The policy which Holmes designed and sold to institutional investors involved making half a dozen modestly-budgeted movies a year aimed at mainstream audiences, in hope that one or two would become hits.

Before joining Civilian, Holmes had success as a producer with similar pics, such as “Waking Ned Devine” and “Shooting Fish.”

The movies on the Film Consortium’s current slate which reflect his strategy include Michael Winterbottom’s “24 Hour Party People” and Nick Willing’s “Doctor Sleep.”

Liza Foreman in London contributed to this report.

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