Film unit to release up to 10 features a year

Homevid player Anchor Bay Entertainment has formed theatrical unit Anchor Bay Films, with plans to release up to 10 pics per year.

Venture should provide indie filmmakers with an outlet to distrib their pics, after labels like Warner Independent and Picturehouse shuttered.

The Starz Media-owned company will be headed by Anchor Bay Entertainment prexy Bill Clark. Plan is to primarily acquire finished films it will roll out theatrically on fewer than 100 screens before distribbing them on other platforms like DVD, Starz’s pay-TV service, the Internet, pay-per-view and video-on-demand, for example.

It will operate separately from Overture Films, which is also owned by Starz. Anchor Bay is the homevid distrib for both Starz and Overture.

Venture is building its staff and plans to hire its own distribution, marketing and acquisition execs.

Company’s first releases will likely bow in the first quarter of 2009. It’s seeking genre pics with recognizable talent.

It will use the platform release of fewer than 100 screens in order to create buzz and awareness for the pics before Anchor Bay rolls them out onto other platforms.

Anchor Bay has already experimented with the release strategy recently with the Matthew McConaughey pic “Surfer Dude,” as well as “Sex and Death 101″ with Winona Ryder, and Woody Harrelson’s “The Grand.”

“The theatrical release really enhanced the prospects of the films on video,” said Anchor Bay Entertainment CEO Chris McGurk, who is also CEO of Overture.

Earlier this month, the Burbank-based company inked a distribution deal with DirecTV, Dish Network, In Demand Networks and TVN to release its films to nearly all U.S. households via pay-per-view and video-on-demand. It also has digital deals with Amazon Video on Demand, iTunes, Netflix and Microsoft’s Xbox.

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