U turns focus to Rogue

Universal expands genre label under Linde

Universal Pictures is expanding its Rogue Pictures, the genre label launched by Focus Features’ coheads David Linde and James Schamus at ShoWest last year.

Rogue is no longer a Focus division, but a separate entity under U and its chair, Stacey Snider, who made the announcement.

Move puts Rogue on pace to release 10 films annually for the studio, and Linde is now expanding his duties at Focus to oversee Rogue. He will also continue to jointly run Focus with Schamus.

Though rumors have swirled that a new exec would come into U to run Rogue, the studio would only say Wednesday that the Focus senior exec group will be expanding their roles internally.

Focus execs who will additionally work on Rogue pics include COO Andrew Karpen, production prexy John Lyons, biz affairs exec VP Avy Eschenasy, distrb prexy Jack Foley, marketing prexy David Brooks, publicity and marketing exec VP Adriene Bowles, int’l sales and distrib exec VP Glen Basner and senior veep of physical prod Jane Evans.

Rogue focuses on high-quality suspense, action, thriller and urban entertainment with mainstream appeal and franchise potential.

Move comes as the studio-based specialty film world keeps expanding brands: New Line and HBO Films launched the Bob Berney-headed Picturehouse in Cannes, effectively shutting down Fine Line. On Sony’s lot — with Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics already established — the studio’s nascent Tristar is ramping up.

“It is our belief that the marketplace is ripe for a smart, flexible and aggressive production and distribution entity with the ability to provide original filmed entertainment to consumers in both the theaters and at home,” said U chairman Stacey Snider. “We are fortunate to be able to grow from within and tap the talents of David Linde to achieve our goal of having another thriving label under the Universal Pictures banner.”

“This initiative will enable us to maximize Rogue’s mandate of making filmmaker and actor-driven genre product that achieves mainstream appeal and profitability,” said Linde.

Rogue is in current release with the Jet Li-starrer “Unleashed.”

The banner’s remake of “Assault on Precinct 13,” recently sold through almost 2 million units in its first week of release on DVD through the Universal Studios Home Entertainment label, which will market and distrib all Rogue product.

Rogue’s further slate includes Jeff Wadlow’s horror pic “Cry Wolf,” an untitled supernatural thriller starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and “Altered,” to be directed by Eduardo Sanchez (“The Blair Witch Project”).