The exits came seven weeks after news emerged during the European Film Market that Dasym Investment Strategies — Exclusive Media’s majority owner — had decided to restructure the company.
Sinclair, who had been co-chairman and CEO, and East, who had been co-chairman, have started White Horse Pictures and based the new banner in Beverly Hills. White Horse is taking about half a dozen features and 15 documentaries out of Exclusive Media — but will not handle foreign sales or distribution.
White Horse will also develop projects for TV and digital and has already hired several young executives.
“We expect to keep the same high standards at White Horse Pictures as we had at Exclusive,” East said. “We want to build a company devoted to high-caliber content.”
The highest-profile White Horse project is a Julius Caesar origins project with Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari on board to produce. White Horse will also continue to work with Exclusive Media on Charlize Theron’s drama “Dark Places” and on a biopic about Keith Moon, the iconic drummer for The Who.
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Friday’s announcement brings to a close the uncertainty over the restructuring of Exclusive, where Schipper had been the chief operating officer. Exclusive Media issued half a dozen pink slips on Feb. 21.
Variety reported on February 7 that the impending exits appeared to stem from a dispute between the execs and Frank Botman, chairman and founder of Dutch funds group Dasym (formerly Cyrte). Botman was reported to have been unhappy with losses sustained in North America by the Formula One motor racing film “Rush” and had expressed a desire to reduce its spending on feature films.
“Rush,” directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, grossed $27 million in the U.S. and $90 million worldwide. John F. Kennedy assassination drama “Parkland” also underperformed.
Sinclair and East are minority owners of Exclusive Media, formed in 2008 after a revived Hammer Pictures acquired Spitfire Pictures from the duo. Simon Oakes remains as the CEO of Hammer.
During their tenure, Exclusive’s best performers were “The Ides of March,” “End of Watch,” “Snitch” and Daniel Radcliffe starrer “The Woman in Black.”
“I am incredibly proud of what we did at Exclusive and its amazing run of box office and critically-acclaimed films,” said Sinclair. “It was an honor to work with the entire team, we are happy the company is in the capable hands of Marc Schipper and Simon Oakes, and are extremely grateful to Dasym for their support in allowing us to build Exclusive.”
Exclusive Media’s productions set for release this year including “Begin Again” (formerly known as “Can a Song Save Your Life?”) at TWC, Liam Neeson’s “A Walk Among the Tombstones” at Universal and Charlize Theron’s “Dark Places.” Its Hammer label will release “The Quiet Ones” in April through Lionsgate and “The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.”
Other titles on its international distribution slate include “Jane Got a Gun,” “Pele,” “Passengers,” “Skiptrace,” “The Green Inferno” and “Out of the Dark.”
Exclusive said its international sales team will continue to handle sales on the library of almost 900 titles as well as seek third-party titles.