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UPI’s Till fills bill at Redbus

Brit indie expected to IPO soon

LONDON — Stewart Till, former president of Universal Pictures Intl., is joining Redbus Film Group as executive director.

In the part-time post, Till is expected to advise the fast-growing British indie on its distribution strategy and relationships with the Hollywood studios.

The signing of Till is a major coup for the year-old Redbus, which combines distribution with ambitious plans to launch video-on-demand over the Internet by the end of the year.

Till will work closely with RFG founder and chief exec Simon Franks. Company, owned and bankrolled by Web millionaire Cliff Stanford, is widely expected to announce plans for an IPO imminently.

Neither Franks nor Till could be reached for comment.

Polygram topper

Till, vice chairman of the U.K.’s new Film Council, formerly spear-headed the international arm of Polygram Filmed Entertainment, making him one of the most powerful figures in the British and European film industries. He continued at the helm after Universal took over Polygram, but ankled in January when UPI was closed down.

Since then, there has been much speculation in London about Till’s next move. The part-time Redbus post, however, provides only a small part of the answer.

Before joining Polygram, Till was deputy managing director of satcaster BSkyB, negotiating all the satcaster’s output deals with the Hollywood studios. He previously headed 20th Century Fox’s video arm in the U.K.

Redbus has grown rapidly since its launch, with 40 staff members already and plans to double that figure by the time its Internet VOD service launches later this year.

Ramping up

To date, Redbus has released a small handful of low-profile pics, such as “Carrie 2” and “The Tichbourne Claimant,” but it is now seeking to use its deep pockets to acquire big-budget Hollywood product as well as investing in Brit pics.

It recently announced an acquisition alliance with Germany’s Helkon, which is likely to see the partners stepping up to buy pan-Euro rights to major titles.

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