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NEW YORK — Representing the first step in the company’s planned expansion into a larger entity under new owners Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, Magnolia Pictures has hired Tom Quinn to head up the Gotham-based specialty distrib’s acquisitions team.

Quinn leaves his position as VP of acquisitions at Samuel Goldwyn Films, where he was responsible for such pickups as “I Capture the Castle,” “Raising Victor Vargas” and recent Sundance award winner “Super Size Me.”

The move is effective immediately. Quinn will represent Magnolia at the upcoming American Film Market, working alongside Jeff Reichert and John McCarron and reporting to Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles.

Quinn’s appointment is the first key hire since Wagner and Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban’s 2929 Prods. increased its minority investment in Magnolia to outright ownership at the end of 2003.

That move followed the acquisition last fall by holding company 2929 Entertainment of the Landmark Theaters arthouse circuit and the signing of indie producers Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente to run digital film production outfit HDNet Films.

Cuban and Wagner’s aim is to create a vertical industry presence in the specialty film marketplace, covering production, distribution, content supply and exhibition.

Bowles said Magnolia’s acquisitions team will also be looking to buy high-definition product to air on Cuban and Phil Garvin’s HDNet, a high-def network carried by some of the country’s top cable operators.

“Now that we have more financial footing, Tom’s appointment is the first step of a very gradual ramp-up for Magnolia into a bigger company,” Bowles told Daily Variety. “But there’s not going to be a seismic shift. We’re still going to stick to our strategy of keeping overhead low and being opportunistic about making the right deals. We’re not out to make big political buys.”

Quinn joined Samuel Goldwyn Films in 1996 as Samuel Goldwyn Jr.’s assistant. Prior to that, he was a publicist with Dennis Davidson Associates in Los Angeles, working on campaigns for “Breaking the Waves,” “Secrets and Lies” and “Lost Highway.”

Magnolia scored a hit last year with Andrew Jarecki’s Oscar-nominated docu feature “Capturing the Friedmans,” which has grossed $3.2 million. Upcoming releases include the doc “Bukowski: Born Into This” and Thai battle epic “Bang Rajan,” to be presented by Oliver Stone.

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