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Arclight, Wrenn launch distribution outfit Greenlight

Arclight Films owners Gary Hamilton and Victor Syrmis and Arclight’s local managing director Michael Wrenn are launching an Australian distribution outfit, Greenlight Releasing, which will begin ushering films into cinemas early next year.

So far it has signed on for Directors Fortnight title Dangerous Liaisons, which is to get a gala screening at Toronto, and the two Australian films Sarah Spillane’s Around The Block, starring Christina Ricci, and Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road, starring Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving and Ryan Kwanten.

Wrenn said the directors of both local films had a distinct, clear vision and voice. “I will acquire films based on taste and hope that leads to them being opinion-making films,” said Wrenn. Projects needed marketing hooks to help them find audiences, he added.

It was announced in Cannes that Wrenn had joined Arclight Films’ Australian office but Arclight would not confirm that it was going into local distribution until now.

“We have thought about setting up an office for quite a while and when Michael approached us suggesting that we work together, it was the right fit,” Hamilton told Screendaily. Wrenn has worked for Celluloid Dreams, Maximum Films, Electric Pictures and Alliance Atlantis. Most recently he helped set up Curious Distribution in Australia.

Two or three of the six to eight films to be released annually by Greenlight Releasing are likely to be Australian, and in those cases Arclight is likely to handle international sales. As well as managing Greenlight Releasing and scouting for films for Arclight, Wrenn will also be assembling official Australian co-productions.

With the departure Arclight’s former Sydney staffer Harry Avramidis, Wrenn is currently the only one in the Arclight/Greenlight Releasing office based at Fox Studios Australia, but more staff will be hired over the coming year, including someone to book films into cinemas. Publicity will be handled out of house and a partner will be sought for the home entertainment side of the business.

Hamilton said it was “possible” that Arclight would move into distribution in other markets, with the US being the most likely. Several years back the company had a US distribution partnership with Alliance but withdrew when Alliance adjusted its priorities.

Arclight has always actively engaged with the Australian market – Hamilton began his sales career in Australia but now divides his time between the US and the UK – but has stepped up activity since the introduction of the 40% producer offset.

Four of the five films on which it has acted as a production company are Australian: Bait, A Few Best Men, Long Weekend and Storm Warning, with the fifth, The Courier, being a US production.

Hamilton would not comment on the legal action that has been threatening Sydney Unplugged (formerly Sydney, I Love You), an Arclight production in planning. Producer Emmanuel Benbihy is claiming the film is unacceptably similar to New York, I Love You and Paris, je t’aime.

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