A Think piece for a pair of upstarts

Bergstein, Tutor acquire U.K.-based Capitol Films

Will the real David Bergstein please stand up?

For years the L.A. businessman was best known for investing in companies on the brink.

His most notable Hollywood move: making a seven-figure loan to Elie Samaha‘s Franchise Pictures that resulted in Bergstein becoming a creditor when Franchise filed for bankruptcy.

But in the past year, Bergstein and construction-biz heavyweight Ron Tutor have made a big push into the pic biz.

They acquired U.K.-based Capitol Films early in the year, with an eye toward beefing up the slate of the sales agent and production company. And last week they snapped up distrib ThinkFilm, best known for docs like “Spellbound” and “Murderball” and niche fare such as “Shortbus” and “Primer.”

Bergstein says he plans to build “a worldwide distributor” and will shop for a homevid or new-media distrib in the U.S.

At Capitol, experienced film execs like Jane Barclay have stayed with the firm as it continues to be a solid player, selling movies like “A Prairie Home Companion” at Cannes, though it also produced B.O. dud “Lucky Number Slevin.”

As for ThinkFilm, Bergstein already suggested the extent of his involvement when he said in an interview that he will base its U.S. operations partly in L.A. instead of Toronto.

His arrival could have a substantial impact on the distrib.

The company had already been talking a global game. Now it’s likely to accelerate those plans and, though execs demur, distributing bigger-budget movies.

When AFM kicks off this week, ThinkFilm will be selling its long-planned roster of pics, such as “Going to Pieces,” a docu about slasher films, and “The Ripple Effect,” the tale of a fashion designer trying to reclaim his life, with Forest Whitaker and Virginia Madsen.

But at the confab and beyond, expect it to display a hint of its new identity, making more pre-buys and shopping for more foreign rights.

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