Former MGM exec named CEO of digital cinema company

Chris McGurk, former Overture Films topper and MGM exec, has been tapped as chairman and CEO of Cinedigm Digital Cinema.

Cinedigm is a digital cinema aggregator and also distributes live events to theaters.

The announcement was made Monday by Cine-digm’s board of directors, which McGurk will head.

McGurk said he plans to continue using digital cinema as a way to help prop up the slumped indie sector, as well as bolster alternative theatrical programming.

“To me, this is a great opportunity to use this platform to focus on those arenas and continue to do all the things they’ve been doing before,” he told Daily Variety.

“The cool thing about digital cinema has always been for me that it helps turn theater complexes into big network programming centers.”

Cinedigm partners with the majors, as well as independent distribs and exhibs to convert theaters to digital technology — a prerequisite for 3D.

“Our goal is to really enable both studios and exhibs to take advantage of what digital can bring to exhibition,” McGurk said.

“There’s a whole kind of next-generation of upsides to digitization of theaters with exhibitors, studios and content providers.”

Among its distribution initiatives, company partnered with soccer governing body FIFA to distribute theatrical 3D telecasts of the World Cup in South Africa to North American theaters last summer.

McGurk admitted he tried starting his own digital conversion company, but instead founded Overture in 2006, heading the company as CEO until last year when it was sold by Liberty Media. He also was CEO of Anchor Bay Entertainment, which released Overture titles for home video.

From 1999 to 2005, McGurk was vice chairman and chief operating officer of MGM until the studio was sold for about $5 billion to a consortium of investors.

McGurk gained notice last month as part of Carl Icahn’s losing slate of dissident candidates in the Lionsgate board elections.

Former CEO Bud Mayo, who retired nine months ago, founded Cinedigm in 2000.

Interim CEOs Adam Mizel and Gary Loffreddo will retain some exec roles in transition.

As part of his gig, set to begin immediately, McGurk will receive an option grant to align his interests with the company’s shareholders, as well as a significant personal purchase of common stock in Cinedigm.

He will be based in Los Angeles.

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