Digital’s Emerging

Merged banner to produce, distrib and exhib pix

NEW YORK — Ira Deutchman is going fully digital. The StudioNext CEO is merging his shingle with EmergingCinemas, a digital theater network conceived by high-definition pioneer Barry Rebo and consumer electronics/home theater exec Giovanni Cozzi.

Company, to be called Emerging Pictures, plans to produce, distribute and exhibit specialized digital films.

Deutchman, a 27-year film vet who founded Fine Line Features and Cinecom, will become prexy-CEO of the venture. Rebo will be chairman, Cozzi vice-chairman. StudioNext production head Douglas Tirola will join the new company with the same title, bringing with him the StudioNext film production and development team.

Through a chain of new digital exhibition venues, Emerging hopes to exhibit its own specialty pics as well as those of other companies. But the pics could also be distributed via other means, including a vast network of strategic partnerships with established distribs and TV venues.

“The blueprint that Barry and Giovanni have created for a nationwide network of digital screens was the missing piece in my own plan to re-invigorate art film distribution in the United States,” said Deutchman. “Adding this remarkable capability to our already thriving production business will give us the tools we need to provide a real alternative to filmmakers looking for a way to reach as broad an audience as possible.”

Cozzi and Rebo said: “We couldn’t be more pleased that the same vision that created Cinecom in the ’80s and Fine Line in the ’90s is now firmly focused on digital as the future of the motion picture business. We are all completely in sync about how we can harness these new technologies to serve the needs of truly independent film.”

EmergingCinemas, the exhibition division of the company, is a network of digital cinemas to be created within existing museums, performing arts centers, science and technology venues and restored historic theaters. Plan calls for the company to focus initially on underserved markets, where there are no arthouse screens, and to grow rapidly to a national platform of more than 150 screens, including some in major markets. First two sites are scheduled to open before year’s end in mid-Atlantic cities yet to be determined.

EmergingCinemas has formed strategic alliances with various technology companies and is in discussions with Miramax Films about supplying the theaters with its specialized titles.

Management movement

Deutchman brings to the company several digital projects as well as a fledgling management division, Emerging Artists. Already completed or in post-production are Daniel Noah’s sci-fi mystery “Twelve,” which premiered at this week’s Austin Film Festival; Tony Jazwinski’s Manhattan road movie “Killing Time”; and Loren Paul Caplan’s mystical odyssey “The Lucky Ones.”

Emerging Artists’ management will focus on directors who have made at least one feature, assisting them to develop careers as well as providing development and finance support for particular projects. Noah and John Christopher Khoury are the first helmers to come aboard as clients. Directors will get a chance to helm vids through the shingle’s corporate communications division, whose clients include Ford Motor Co., Coca-Cola and Fusion Five.

Deutchman has worked on more than 130 films in marketing, distribution and exec producer capacities. Among the films in which he has been involved are “The Player” and “Hoop Dreams.”

Rebo founded the Rebo Group, one of the first production companies working in high-definition TV. Cozzi has been developing and marketing large-screen projection systems for more than two decades. A key booster of the home theater industry, Cozzi was a co-founder of high-end video projection manufacturer Vidikron of America.

Filmmaker Tirola made his directorial debut with “A Reason to Believe,” released in 1996 by Trimark. He has worked on the production of more than 20 movies — as producer, location manager and production coordinator.

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