Film company retools image during exec search

SYDNEY — Beyond Intl. is casting a wide net to replace Gary Hamilton, who announced March 12 he’s stepping down March 27 after 12 years as general manager of Beyond Films, as the company seeks to reposition the film sales banner.

Beyond started looking for potential replacements late last year after Hamilton indicated he was planning to move on. Exec director Ian Ingram tells Variety there is a short list of five or six candidates, who live in London, N.Y. and L.A. He says whoever is chosen will remain in his or her city, but he does not rule out hiring a Sydney-based exec, adding there is no rush.

Ingram reasons that basing the head of film sales in the U.S. or London would position that person closer to the majority of Beyond Films’ buyers and make it easier to acquire U.S. and British films.

As Australian films generally have struggled to achieve sales and B.O. success abroad in the past few years, Beyond has shifted its acquisition focus increasingly to the Northern Hemisphere.

“In the past year, we’ve been looking to reposition Beyond Films as the market for Australian films has changed,” he says.

“The number of quality Australian films has been fairly limited. We’ve been asking: Where are the next lot of international hits coming out of Australia? We need to look at that with fresh eyes. We need to interact better with talent and constantly develop new relationships.”

With hindsight, Ingram regrets that Beyond passed on nabbing international rights to Phillip Noyce’s “Rabbit-Proof Fence” (subsequently collared by Jeremy Thomas’ London-based Han Way Films).

Hamilton, who founded Beyond’s film division in 1990, ranks as one of the longest-serving sales chiefs in the world. He estimates he’s sold 160 films. “It’s time after 12 years to look at doing something else,” Hamilton said. “I want to see what (opportunities) are out there.” While he isn’t ready to flag his next move, he said, “I do want to get more directly involved in developing projects.”

He’s been instrumental in helping to launch the international careers of many directors and actors. Hamilton repped the first films from such luminaries as Baz Luhrmann (“Strictly Ballroom”), Russell Crowe (“The Crossing”), Gregor Jordan (“Two Hands”), Heath Ledger (“Black Rock”), Hugh Jackman (“Paperback Hero”) and Andrew Dominik (“Chopper.”)

In the past couple of years, Beyond achieved healthy sales for “Lantana,” “Chopper” and “Two Hands,” but the kind of break-out pic which commands the attention of Miramax has been elusive.

Hamilton’s exit is not related to the just-completed merger of Beyond’s film sales and TV distribution arms, which now form Beyond Intl. Sales. The process to unify the sales operations started 12 months ago.

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