Apparition moving out of theatrical distribution

With Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” close to finding a new U.S. distributor, Bill Pohlad’s Apparition is getting out of the theatrical distribution game.

Tuesday brought a second round of layoffs at Apparition, with all but a few employees let go in the company’s New York and Los Angeles offices.

Tree of Life” was the only remaining title on Apparition’s slate. While the company had been expected to release the film this year, the pic was never given a release date.

Insiders say Apparition may not completely shutter. They added that Pohlad didn’t want to make the cuts until talks for a new distrib for “Tree of Life” were in advanced stages.

Apparition is working with CAA to place the pic with a U.S. distrib.

Pohlad produced “Tree of Life” via his River Road Entertainment label, so he remains heavily invested in the film’s fate.

Tuesday’s layoffs didn’t come as a surprise. Nor was Apparition expected to be making significant acquisitions at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival.

On June 30, Pohlad cut Apparition’s workforce by 60% to roughly 15 staffers. That followed veteran distribution exec Bob Berney’s abrupt departure in May, only one year after he and Pohlad — a financier and producer — teamed to launch Apparition.

Many of those laid off were part of the team Berney brought with him.

At the time of the first round of layoffs, Pohlad said he was committed to an effort to stay in the distrib biz and tapped former Lionsgate prexy Tom Ortenberg as a consultant to assist on the distribution and marketing strategy for “Tree of Life.”

The Malick pic wasn’t done in time for the Venice, Telluride or Toronto film festivals, but that doesn’t preclude a 2010 release and awards run. Or a new distributor could opt to wait for a 2011 release.

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