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At a time when the specialty biz is contracting, Regent Entertainment Media believes it’s found a new sweet spot — what it’s dubbed the world cinema niche.

Regent, which built its reputation as a specialist in gay-themed fare with 1998’s “Gods and Monsters,” will bow “Departures,” the Oscar-winning Japanese movie, May 29 in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

Despite the pic’s seeming downbeat theme of a widower dealing with loss, Regent chairman Stephen Jarchow believes “Departures” can match the “Gods and Monsters” gross of $6.5 million, which would make the pic an arthouse hit in the current climate.

The pic’s grossed well over $60 million in Japan alone.

“Departures” — acquired late last year — is the most notable part of Regent’s expansion to fill the void left by the exits of Warner Independent, Picturehouse and New Yorker Films. The company’s on track to release a dozen films this year, including the May 8 launch of “Little Ashes,” featuring “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson as Spanish painter Salvador Dali.

It’s already released “Tokyo Sonata” from Japan, “Serbis” from the Philippines and “The Song of the Sparrows” from Iran. Long-term plans are for foreign films to make up about half the Regent slate.

Regent execs believe the company’s credibility within the gay community — via the Here! video-on-demand network and magazines Out and the Advocate — support expansion beyond just gay-themed films.

“What we found is that our audience — which is more educated and sophisticated — has been telling us to give them more,” says CEO Paul Colichman.

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