FIP to produce, acquire local-language films

Fox Filmed Entertainment is launching Fox International Prods. to produce and acquire local-language films for key global territories.

Sanford Panitch will segue from his post as prexy of filmed entertainment at Fox partner New Regency to run the outfit, which will house all of Fox’s existing and future indigenous productions under one umbrella.

Panitch, who will work out of FIP’s Los Angeles-based offices, will report to Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen and CEOs Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman.

Fox is following in the footsteps of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which created an international film production department in April 2007 and became the first major studio to maintain stand-alone, local-language production units throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Fox’s division will oversee production activities already in progress in Japan, Germany, Russia and India and will expand its efforts in several additional territories to produce, co-finance, acquire and distribute local-language films. FIP, which plans to develop partnerships with local filmmakers and production companies, will produce local fare to complement Fox’s worldwide releases — an increasingly important strategy given the strength of the international box office.

FIP will work closely with Fox’s other production divisions and partners and will also tap into News Corp. sister companies, such as STAR, SKY and MySpace. Similarly, FIP will collaborate with Fox International — run by co-prexies Tomas Jegeus and Paul Hanneman — which will handle all marketing and distribution for FIP.

“We have the infrastructure provided by the world’s most global media company along with Fox’s unmatched marketing and distribution operations, and in Sanford, we have a seasoned, successful executive with whom to entrust this important enterprise,” said Gianopulos, who spearheaded the effort.

Rothman called Panitch “a uniquely gifted and well-rounded film executive … (who) has spent much of his efforts focusing on international talent.”

Fox is in talks with several investment funds interested in providing equity financing for its international productions.

Panitch, a former executive VP of production at Fox, returns to the studio after a seven-year stint at New Regency.

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