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Ivernel Leaves Pathe to Launch U.K. Production Company

Exec to set up London-based shingle Montebello Prods.

Senior Pathe exec Francois Ivernel has quit the European mini-major to start up London-based production company Montebello Prods.

Most recently, Ivernel had been serving as chairman of the board and managing director of Les Cinemas Gaumont Pathe, deputy managing director of Pathe, a member of its exec board and prexy of Pathe U.K.

At Montebello, Ivernel will produce “smart, reasonably budgeted, mostly English-speaking films with a great story that can reach a worldwide audience,” he told Variety.

Most of Montebello’s movies will be budgeted under $30 million, Ivernel added, so not necessarily dependent on a U.S. distribution deal to go into production. Ivernel said he will produce his films “one at a time.”

He pointed to films he executive produced at Pathe — “The Queen,” “Bright Star,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours” and “The Iron Lady” — as “exactly the type of films I’d like to produce.”

Ivernel will “over the next few weeks explore the possibility of a housekeeping or first-look deals, or decide to keep Montebello purely independent.”

At Pathe, Ivernel took an executive producer credit on other films such as “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” among others, titles which earned a total of 37 Oscars nominations, 12 Oscars and a Cannes Festival Palme d’Or.

Most recently, Ivernel exec produced Stephen Frears’ sales hit “Philomena,” whose U.S. pick-up by The Weinstein Co. was one of the biz highlights of Cannes.

Ivernel’s departure deprives Pathe and its co-president Jerome Seydoux of one of its most faithful, discreet and hardworking of servants, who joined  Seydoux’s Chargeurs in 1986.

Ivernel’s role at Pathe has grown ever larger as he accepted increasing corporate responsibilities after Chargeurs bought Pathe in 1990.

Appointed in 2011 as managing director of the Pathe-Gaumont joint exhibition loop in France, Les Cinemas Gaumont Pathe, Ivernel had dedicated a great deal of energy recently to renovating France’s biggest cinema theater chain, launching a new brand premium cinema brand, Pathe Plus, in January.

As a top-ranking French-born film executive at Europe’s second-biggest film company by annual revenues — only Odeon-UCI Cinemas is larger — Ivernel has spent most of his working life as a film exec based out of London.

That now puts him and Montebello in an ideal situation to marshal U.K. and European film financing for projects. “But the film comes creatively first. It can’t be shoe-horned into a financing system,” Ivernel said.

With film production, he added, he will dedicate himself to his prime passion.

“I became quite passionate about renovating cinema theaters,” Ivernel confessed. “(But) I came to a point of my life when I wanted to decide what to do with the years ahead of me. What I really want to do is to make some good or great films which will remain with my name on them.”

Leo Barraclough contributed to this story.

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