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Berneys revive Picturehouse on eve of Sundance

Partners with Netflix exclusively; launching with Metallica pic

Just in time for the Sundance Film Fest, Bob Berney and Jeanne Berney have reopened the doors of Picturehouse, the full-service indie marketing and distribution company they started in 2005. Banner is launching with “Metallica Through The Never,” which will also christen an exclusive post-theatrical deal with Netflix.

Bob Berney will serve as CEO and Jeanne Berney will serve as prexy of the relaunched company, which will continue to be based in New York. Though the Berneys announced their exit from FilmDistrict in November 2011, they continued handling its releases through March of last year, and covered the studio at Sundance.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be back in business under the Picturehouse banner,” said Bob Berney, who recently acquired the trademark and logo from Warner Bros. “We worked very hard to build it into a brand known for acquiring exciting, challenging and entertaining films from the U.S. and around the world, and helping them find their audiences.”

Picturehouse’s first new release will be “Metallica Through The Never,” a feature film starring members of the iconic rock band and Dane DeHaan (“Chronicle”). DeHaan plays a young crew member sent out on an urgent mission in the middle of a sold-out Metallica show. Nimrod Antal wrote and directed the pic, which hits theaters August 9.

“Nim and the band have made a film that really captures the spirit of Metallica and their millions of loyal fans. It’s an entertaining genre film with a concert inside it, a fun ride featuring an exciting young actor, Dane DeHaan. It’s a very cool project to reboot Picturehouse with,” said Bob Berney.

Picturehouse will acquire, market and theatrically distribute independent films from the U.S. and around the world. The company expects to release two or three films this year, increasing its output to four or five in 2014 and six or seven in subsequent years. The company recently signed an exclusive, multi-year output deal with Netflix, where Picturehouse films will land exclusively in the U.S. shortly after theatrical release.

“Bob and Jeanne are legendary tastemakers and innovators who were early partners with Netflix in bringing amazing movies like ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘La Vie en Rose’ to our service,” said Netflix’s Ted Sarandos. “Netflix members love independent films and the Berneys have indisputably great taste.”

Picturehouse revival was first reported Tuesday by the New York Times.

In addition, Picturehouse has secured a first look relationship with Warner Bros. Pictures International for films to which it has international distribution rights.

Mr. Berney headed the company when it was originally formed in April 2005 as a joint venture between HBO and New Line Cinema. Under his leadership, Picturehouse acquired and released such acclaimed features as Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth,” Olivier Dahan’s “La Vie en Rose,” Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and Seth Gordon’s documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.”

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