Former ThinkFilm associates to join indie vet

Mark Urman has launched Paladin, a new distribution outfit staffed with some of his former ThinkFilm associates.

It’s been a challenging year for the respected indie marketing maven and distrib vet. He exited his prexy post at Senator U.S. in June when the newly launched distributor ran into trouble sourcing P&A funds. And just a year ago, he ankled ThinkFilm — the distrib he’d co-founded in 2001 — when the company ran into financial hot water after being bought by Capitol Films.

But Urman has wasted no time. He’s assembled an initial four-film release slate, including the Bryce Dallas Howard starrer “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond,” which bowed at the Toronto film fest last year.

Amanda Sherwin serves as Paladin’s head of marketing and Michael Tuckman will handle theatrical sales. The execs worked with Urman in the same capacities for seven years at ThinkFilm.

At Think, Urman oversaw the release of more than 80 films, including “Spellbound,” “Born Into Brothels,” “The Aristocrats,” “Half Nelson” and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”

Urman is launching Paladin at a time when there are plenty of specialty titles looking for a theatrical release, but few buyers.

“I’m staggered at the opportunities and the quality of the films available,” Urman told Daily Variety. “I’m working at what I’m meant to do — working in partnership with filmmakers.”

Paladin’s inaugural release is another title that showed at Toronto last year: “Disgrace,” the adaptation of the J.M. Coetzee novel starring John Malkovich. The drama opens in New York on Sept. 18 and expands in other key markets a week later.

“Teardrop Diamond,” based on Tennessee Williams’ screenplay, will show at select film festivals this fall and then open in New York and Los Angeles in late December, followed by a top-10 market expansion in early 2010. Ellen Burstyn, Ann-Margret, Mamie Gummer and Will Patton also star in the period romance. Pic is the feature debut for helmer Jodie Markell and is produced by Brad Michael Gilbert.

Paladin will launch comedy “Splinterheads,” written and directed by Brant Sersen, in November. Pic premiered earlier this year at Austin’s South by Southwest fest.

Paladin will also open Bette Gordon’s road film “Handsome Harry” early next year. “Harry” premiered at Tribeca this year and stars Jamey Sheridan, Steve Buscemi, Aidan Quinn, John Savage and Campbell Scott.

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