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Freshman ‘Dance

Veteran buyers unveil raft of new distribution labels at the fest

His brand may be familiar, but since taking over Overture’s marketing and distribution last summer, Ryan Kavanaugh’s new mission is to bring his films to theaters and hunt down indie fare across all genres with wide-release potential. The newbie distrib’s team, now with six films on its 2011 calendar, is looking to fill several more open slots with acquisitions that can hit 1,500-2,000 screens in a single bound. FilmNation will handle overseas sales and distribution of Relativity titles.

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Wrekin Hill Entertainment
Less than a year after Exclusive Media Group acquired his company, Newmarket co-founder Chris Ball left to launch this new specialty outfit, appointing longtime colleague John Crye as president of production and acquisitions. “We’re hoping to release three to six Newmarket-type films a year, director- and story-driven with a specific market niche,” says Ball, including some service deals, plus 10 ancillary pickups a year. In addition to two films slated for theaters this year, WHE has seven more titles in its pipeline.

Founded by Graham King and Tim Headington’s GK Films with Sony vet Peter Schlessel and steered by theatrical distribution prexy Bob Berney, FilmDistrict aims to release four to eight movies a year, up to six by itself and the rest via Sony’s TriStar and Triumph shingles. Like fellow aspiring mini-major Relativity, their goal is delivering wide commercial releases across all genres. Acquisitions honchos Berney and Schlessel head to Sundance with three 2011 releases slated and an eye for more.

ATO Pictures
After eight years as a film production outfit, ATO (short for “Art Takes Over”) aims to release four to six specialty films a year “with a strong auteur voice, but also strong commercial breakout potential,” according to CEO Temple Fennell. Like Roadside Attractions before it, ATO is partnering with Samuel Goldwyn on select acquisitions (like last summer’s “Mao’s Last Dancer”) and jointly overseeing distribution entity IDP. Cofounder Johnathan Dorfman, head of acquisitions Sarah Lash and Fennell will hunt Park City for features they can launch on 300-500 screens.

Indomina Releasing
Who is Jasbinder Singh Mann and why has he been buying up foreign genre films like hotcakes? After fronting mid-’90s alt-rock band Babylon Zoo and directing musicvideos as “Jas Mann,” the British-born artist of Indian descent was introduced to Asset manager Vicini back in 2008 through business associates. Shortly thereafter, plans were put in motion to launch the Indomina Group, an independent studio for which Jas oversees global operations that include the production and distribution of films, TV, music, interactive games and the ownership of studio facilities and production services. Their mission: target the 18- to 34-year-old fanboy audience with genre fare. Acquisitions VP Rob Williams will keep adding to the nine martial arts, horror and thriller flicks they picked up this fall.

More from Sundance Film Festival:
Five ways to survive | Doc titans get Premiere treatment | Hot titles | Sellers beware | Native voices | Freshman ‘Dance

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