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MGM hits ‘Home’

Studio nabs Winkler's 9/11 pic

MGM has acquired distribution rights to the Irwin Winkler-helmed 9/11 pic “Home of the Brave” from Nu Image/Millennium Films, which is being produced with Emmett/Furla Films.

Pic will receive a platform release this fall. MGM is handling theatrical, home video and TV distribution.

“Home of the Brave” stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel and rapper 50 Cent as U.S. troops adjusting to life back home after enduring the physical and emotional toll of war in Iraq.

Mark Friedman wrote the script based on a story by Friedman and Winkler. Rob Cowan, Winkler, George Furla and Avi Lerner are producing.

News comes as MGM has been beefing up on staff in its evolution into a full distribution and marketing company under the leadership of chairman-CEO Harry Sloan and COO Rick Sands.

Company will finalize its $150 million J.P. Morgan-backed P&A fund on June 10, and recently hired Perry Stahman as prexy of theatrical marketing. Earlier in the year Clark Woods was hired to head distribution.

In its new incarnation, MGM plans between 22 and 25 wide releases a year. Studio’s first release was the Weinstein Co.’s “Lucky Number Slevin,” which will be followed by another Weinstein pic, “Clerks 2,” which is screening at Cannes.

In December, MGM launches Sylvester Stallone-starrer “Rocky Balboa,” a Revolution-Columbia Pictures-MGM production, and Phoenix Pictures’ Renee Zellweger-topliner “Miss Potter.”

Sands said at a press conference on Sunday that MGM — which does not have a development staff — will continue to broker relationships with producers, both U.S. and international, to feed its pipeline, and that the company has renewed its international distribution deal with Fox Intl.

Despite Sony’s 20% ownership stake in MGM, and its theatrical and homevid distribution deal with the company — which exists in addition to MGM’s independent distribution system — Sands said that MGM does not collaborate with Sony on release dates.

“There are only 52 Fridays in a year and 52 Wednesdays, and we’re competitive with all studios,” he said. “When we sit down and look at possible release dates, it’s irrelevant which studio has movies on a certain date. We do what’s best for our movie, just like every other studio does … We have to compete at all levels.”

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