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Ebay guru clicks with digital cinema

A willing Participant for Emerging exhib

NEW YORK — Gotham distribution banner Emerging Pictures is forging ahead with plans to create a national network of digitally equipped cinemas, having secured financial backing from eBay founder Jeff Skoll’s Participant Prods.

Plan is to create a network of specialty film sites — in museums, performing arts centers, technology institutions and restored movie palaces — that can screen independent features digitally, as programmed by Emerging.

Los Angeles-based Participant was founded last year by philanthropist and online entrepreneur Skoll. Participant projects will be rolled out, in part, via the Emerging digital partnership.

Emerging, headed by Ira Deutchman, Giovanni Cozzi and Barry Rebo, has “created a new way to bring quality films to underserved theatrical viewers,” Skoll said of the move. “We applaud their vision of an alternative distribution channel that leverages existing community venues and provides new opportunities for filmmakers to reach willing audiences.”

Participant inked a pact last year with Warner Bros. to co-finance and produce the dramas “Syriana” and “Class Action.” Unit is also producing “American Gun” with IFC Films.

Emerging just struck a deal with the North Carolina-based Full Frame Documentary Film Festival to syndicate the event in a dozen additional cities.

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