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First Look Studios slims down

Rumors circulating that company seeks buyer

First Look Studios has become the latest indie distrib to slim down, issuing pinkslips last week to a range of employees including VP of TV sales Gene Lavelle and advertising director Michael Crow.

In addition, international sales outfit Celluloid Dreams is suing First Look for $720,000 in final payments from the U.S. sale of “Sukiyaki Western Django,” starring Quentin Tarantino. Celluloid has filed to freeze the company’s assets.

Though he’s not commenting on the pending lawsuit, First Look CEO Trevor Short said the layoffs were “a difficult but necessary decision given the current tough economic climate.”

The events have escalated rumors that the company is looking for a buyer, using its 700-plus library as a hook. Titles include the comedy “Miss Conception,” starring Heather Graham; crime thriller “Transsiberian,” with Woody Harrelson; and the Japanese period drama “Blood Brothers.” On the TV end the company distributes bouts from “The Ultimate Fighting Championship” and the “Ghost Hunters” series.

Avi Lerner’s Nu Image/Millennium Films, which acquired First Look Studios in April 2007, had no comment.

First Look signed a long-term output deal with Peace Arch Entertainment, which announced its own cuts on Wednesday (Daily Variety, Dec. 11).

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