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London arrives at Destination

Exec to spearhead distribution

Destination Film Distribution Co., the new production and distribution entity headed by producer Steve Stabler, has named former Paramount vice chairman Barry London as president of marketing and distribution.

London, whose two-year production deal at Paramount ends Jan. 1, was in talks with Miramax about a similar position last month.

In his new role, which he assumes Jan. 15, London will oversee all avenues of distribution for Destination’s motion pictures, including theatrical, homevideo, television, music publishing and licensing.

“This is a landmark moment in Destination’s early history,” said Stabler. “We were hoping to find a top marketing and distribution person, but to have Barry join us is remarkable.”

Supported by a $100 million insurance-backed financing arrangement, Destination plans to produce, acquire and domestically distribute 12 moderately budgeted films in the upcoming year, expanding to 20 a year thereafter.

London said he was particularly excited about the idea of working with a startup company. “It’s the ability to start something from the ground up,” he told Daily Variety. “It’s much more entrepreneurial than what I’ve done in the past.”

Of the Miramax position, London said, “I have nothing but respect for them, but this was an opportunity I could not pass up.”

Destination’s first release, “Eye of the Beholder,” starring Ewan McGregor, Ashley Judd and k.d. lang, is tentatively skedded for an early spring 1999 release.

Insiders have speculated that Jay Peckos, who headed distribution for Orion when Stabler was an exec there, may eventually join Destination as a distribution exec under London. Peckos is currently a consultant with Trimark Pictures.

London served as vice chairman of Par’s Motion Picture Group from 1994 to 1996, overseeing the studio’s theatrical and video feature marketing and distribution worldwide, including Par’s interest in United Intl. Pictures, its overseas distribution joint venture with Universal and MGM.

As a distribution and marketing exec, London supervised the releases of such Paramount hits as “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “The Firm,” “Ghost,” “Wayne’s World,” and “Fatal Attraction.”

London joined Par in 1971, serving as manager of both eastern and western divisions before becoming VP and general sales manager in 1981.

London left Par’s executive ranks in 1996, segueing into a two-year producing deal. During that time, the Barry London Co. developed a number of projects including “The It Girl,” “Disgruntled Former Employee” and a feature adaptation of ’60s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes.”

Destination’s films will include those acquired through strategic alliances with Behaviour Worldwide and Largo Entertainment. Upcoming releases include “Loved,” starring Sean Penn, Robin Wright and William Hurt, and “Beautiful,” starring Minnie Driver and directed by Sally Field.

Meanwhile, Destination is in serious negotiations with a third sales company, Quadra Entertainment, about co-financing and co-producing a number of projects. No titles have been decided upon.

The company is seeking an additional $100 million line of credit to finance the cost of prints and advertising for its releases. Destination’s future plans also include the formation of a domestic video distribution arm and output deals with major distributors in key foreign territories.

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