United Artists at Crossroads

Two pics a year for North American distribution

HOLLYWOOD — United Artists has signed a three-year, first-look deal with the feature division of Gotham-based video and commercial production shingle Crossroads Films, headed by indie vet Bingham Ray.

Arrangement is designed to produce two films per year that UA will distribute in North America. Pics will be budgeted at $3 million-$15 million. Ray’s division also plans to announce separate financing and international distribution components for the company.

“Having worked closely with Bingham when he ran October Films, I am well aware of his talent and am thrilled to have him join forces with United Artists,” said Chris McGurk, MGM’s vice chairman and chief operating officer. “He is a perfect addition to the company, particularly given his unparalleled reputation in the independent film community.”

Ray was a co-founder of October, which released such award-winning pics as “Life Is Sweet,” “Secrets and Lies,” “Breaking the Waves,” “The Celebration,” “Joe Gould’s Secret” and “The Apostle.”

In a statement, Larry Gleason and Gerry Rich, who together run United Artists, called Ray “a magnet for talent (whose) taste and track record are impeccable.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity United Artists has given me,” said Ray, who negotiated the deal with Jim Janowitz and Karen Robson of Pryor, Cashman, Sherman & Flynn. “Our resolve at Crossroads Films is to make extraordinary pictures every time out. Working with such a great lineup of executives at UA will make that difficult task a bit easier.”

Feature factory

Ray joined the Crossroads partnership in October and launched the feature division early this year (Daily Variety, Jan. 26). Outfit was initially formed in 1989 by Dan Lindau, Cami Taylor and Nick Wollner as a multimedia production company that allows directors from varied backgrounds to enter the commercial marketplace.

With facilities in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Crossroads has won virtually every industry award several times over, including MTV video of the year, the Gold Lion, Grammys, AICP and Clios.