Kimmel taps Berenson as prod’n prexy

Move part of banner accelerating production slate

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment has tapped veteran exec and producer Matt Berenson as president of production as part of the banner’s acceleration of its production slate.

Move comes in the wake of SKE announcing a pair of Lakeshore mystery co-prods — “The Lincoln Lawyer,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei and starting lensing in July; and “One for the Money,” starring Katherine Heigl and set for an August start. It’s also teamed with Mark Gordon and Midnight Kitchen on fast-tracking supernatural thriller “Pay the Ghost” with Dennis Iliadis directing.

SKE’s also seen the remake of its own “Death at a Funeral” top $35 million in three weeks as it shifts toward more mainstream fare and away from specialty titles.

“As we ramp up our production slate, it’s essential to have Matt join us at this time,” said SKE president Jim Tauber. “His broad level of production experience and like-minded sensibilities make him a perfect addition.”

Berenson’s most notable successes include producing “Daddy Day Care” and working on “Erin Brockovich” and “Out of Sight” while an exec at Jersey Films. For the past year and a half Berenson has been president of production at Principato-Young, developing “Central Intelligence” at Universal, “Bot” at Fox and “One Night Stan” at Lionsgate; he also served in the same post Carsey-Werner Films, producing “Let’s Go to Prison” and “The Brothers Solomon.”

SKE had decided in 2008 to cut its slate from five to six films per year to two to three. Garment industry billionaire Kimmel made the announcement in the wake of middling box office for upscale pics such as “Lars and the Real Girl,” which grossed $6 million; “Charlie Bartlett,” which took in $3.7 million; and the original “Death at a Funeral,” which landed $8.5 million.

SKE also backed U releases “United 93” and “Breach,” which both grossed more than $30 million; “Kite Runner,” which Par Vantage released to a $15 million domestic cume; and co-financed “Adventureland,” which cumed $16 million, with Miramax.

“I look forward to helping Sidney make quality, commercial films across a variety of genres with the next generation of talented, point-of-view filmmakers,” Berenson said.

SKE’s also promoting Mark Mikutowicz to Creative Executive.

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