Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution (MPD) and ArclightFilms are launching the US-based distribution joint venture Union Station Media.

Former Lionsgate acquisitions executive Paul Gardner will run theLos Angeles-based company, which will initially release 12-18 titles a year onthe DVD, television, cable, internet, VOD, PPV and electronic sell-thruplatforms.

The first three pictures are Arthur Allan Seidelman's drama TheSisters starring MariaBello, Mary Stuart Masterson and Erika Christensen; Steve Pasvolsky's teen skateboardingfeature Deck Dogz starringskateboarding legend Tony Hawk; and David Sereda's documentary Dan AykroydUnplugged On UFOs.

Union Station is currently filling key positions, with senior vicepresident of operations Barbara Javitz already in place along with brandmanager Deborah Katz.

Executives will attend Cannes to bulk up the slate and Gardnerexpects to sign output deals with major independent labels in the coming year tobring in further acquisitions.

"With the backing of Arclight Films and MPD, we are on ourway to building a slate of commercially viable programmes for a wide audience,"Gardner said.

"We have developed a sound business plan that makes sense inthe current climate of the domestic independent marketplace and believe UnionStation has an extremely bright future ahead of it."

"This is a strategic extension of our burgeoning homeentertainment activities in Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom," MPD'sexecutive vice president of corporate development and general counsel Paul Labergeadded.

"USM establishes a distribution footprint in the NorthAmerican marketplace which we have long sought," Arclight managingdirector Gary Hamiton said. "This is a natural step in Arclight Films'business plan."

Gardner previously spearheaded such Lionsgate acquisitions as StandingIn The Shadows Of Motown,and Step Into Liquid.

Prior to Lionsgate he served as vice president, office of the presidentat Artisan Entertainment, where he negotiated an output deal with AllianceAtlantis for the distribution of Artisan titles in Canada.

Javitz hasworked in the independent film and home entertainment industries for more than30 years and most recently served at DEJ Productions.