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MGM Relaunching Orion Pictures as Distributor, Taps John Hegeman

MGM is relaunching Orion Pictures as a new, standalone U.S. theatrical marketing and distribution company to distribute Orion’s productions and acquisitions.

MGM chairman and CEO Gary Barber made the announcement on Wednesday on the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival. Veteran executive John Hegeman has been hired in the newly-created role of president of Orion Pictures and will reported to Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM’s Motion Picture Group.

Orion was created in 1978 and had a mixed record for the next two decades. Its releases included “Hoosiers” and “The Terminator,” and it won four Academy Awards for best picture with “Amadeus” in 1984, “Platoon” in 1986, “Dances With Wolves” in 1990, and “The Silence of the Lambs” in 1991. It also declared bankruptcy that year and was bought by MGM in 1997, then brought back as a distributor in 2013. Orion has teamed with Samuel Goldwyn Films as a co-distributor on several films recently.

The first movie released under the new label will be Michael Sucsy’s romantic drama “Every Day,” starring Angourie Rice, Maria Bello and Debby Ryan. Based on David Levithan’s novel of the same name, the film follows a 16-year-old girl who falls in love with a spirit that awakens each morning in a different body. “Every Day,” an MGM Pictures production from Likely Story and FilmWave, will open on Feb. 2.

“Orion is one of MGM’s legacy brands that has released crowd-pleasing hits like ‘The Terminator,’ ‘Robocop,’ ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ and ‘Hoosiers,’ and such critically acclaimed films as ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Dances With Wolves,'” Barber said. “We couldn’t think of a better time to revitalize this nostalgic brand and return to U.S. theatrical distribution utilizing this label, with John leading the marketing and distribution efforts.”

Hegeman has been heading Blumhouse Productions’ Blumhouse Tilt as president. He oversaw the wide release of the Orion Pictures’ production of James Gunn’s horror thriller “The Belko Experiment,” which grossed $10 million domestically following its March release. Hegeman has also overseen marketing for BH Tilt releases including Eli Roth’s “The Green Inferno,” “The Darkness,” and “Lowriders” in conjunction with Telemundo.

Prior to working at BH Tilt, Hegeman served as chief marketing officer for New Regency Productions; chief operating officer for Fox Atomic; and president of worldwide marketing for both Lionsgate and Artisan Entertainment. He’s worked on campaigns for “Fury,” “28 Weeks Later,” “Crash,” “Birdcage,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” and “The Blair Witch Project.”

“After working together, we saw first-hand John’s ingenuity in creating disruptive marketing campaigns with limited budgets,” Glickman said. “He is the ideal executive to lead Orion as he has proven that he can deftly craft strategies for releases, spanning all genres, to reach targeted audiences without the burden of high-cost traditional advertising.

MGM plans for Hegeman to assemble and build out a theatrical distribution, marketing and digital team, and be responsible for the marketing and distribution of four to six modestly-budgeted films a year, across genres and platforms, both wide and limited releases for targeted audiences.

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