Image reverses roles

Lerner's company may buy First Look

In a reversal of roles, Avi Lerner’s Nu Image/Millennium Films is in talks to buy First Look Pictures.

Move comes 2½ weeks after Henry Winterstern stepped down as First Look CEO, following two years of aggressive expansion of the banner. Winterstern’s final move prior to his ankling had been to launch negotiations to buy Lerrner’s shingle.

Neither company would comment on the negotiations for First Look, which includes production, distribution, foreign sales and DVD operations along with a 700-title library. Merrill Lynch has taken an equity stake in First Look, which is also backed by hedge fund Prentice Capital.

First Look prexy Ruth Vitale announced last week that she’ll ankle on April 30 due to the decision by the company’s board to scale back operations. Banner’s recent releases such as “The Dead Girl,” “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” and “Wassup Rockers” have performed poorly.

Millennium’s begun spending more on its pics, but recent releases “The Black Dahlia,” “The Wicker Man” and “Home of the Brave” haven’t generated significant box office.

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