Mark Urman exits Senator Entertainment

Distribution prexy ankles amid funding woes

Mark Urman has ankled his post as president of Senator Entertainment’s distribution company.

Both the company and Urman said that the exit from Senator Distribution was amicable, but it underscores the problems the fledgling distributor is having in raising the money for the P&A needed to release two films this fall and several more in the future.

The exit comes as Senator CEO Marco Weber is reportedly attempting to raise P&A funding for two North American releases planned for the fall: the Antoine Fuqua-directed “Brooklyn’s Finest,” and the Gregor Jordan-helmed Samuel L. Jackson starrer “Unthinkable.”

Other Senator films include “Fireflies in the Garden,” an ensemble family drama that stars Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds, which hasn’t been dated for release.

Senator has so far released one movie, Bret Easton Ellis novel adaptation “The Informers,” which flopped.

A spokesman for the company said that Senator continues its business operations as usual while Weber continues to try to raise coin.

Urman, who exited nine months into his contract, triggered a clause to which he and Weber agreed when Urman joined the company in the fall from David Bergstein’s ThinkFilm. Urman, who co-founded ThinkFilm in 2001, said he did not want to be shackled to a company that didn’t have the cash to properly release its film acquisitions.

“We built in (to his contract) nine months, like a pregnancy, as the time where, if the company wasn’t properly financed, that we would mutually be able to walk away from our obligations,” Urman said. “It makes no sense for me to be contractually obligated to a distribution company not in a position to release films, and it makes no sense for a company to pay someone at my level if it’s not fully active.”

Urman said that the indie film game has always been tough, but that Senator, like others, is facing tough odds because of the credit crunch and the economy.

“We looked at the future and said, ‘There is too much at stake to wing this with people we want to continue to have relationships with,’ ” Urman said. “In a very grownup way, we said, ‘Let’s catch our breath, and be candid with the filmmakers who need to know what is really going on.’ We tried to take control of a situation and not tap dance. This is hardly a unique situation, and other companies great and small are facing similar difficulties. It’s not an embarrassment that you could not raise a ton of money at a time when nobody is lending it.”

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