Alliance Atlantis' distribution arm Motion PictureDistribution (MPD) has promoted Jim Sherry to the position of executivemanaging director; Sherry was previously president of Canadian theatricaldistribution.

The appointment comes in the wake of the sudden departure ofMPD chairman Victor Loewy and president and CEO Patrice Theroux in July.

MPD CEO John Bailey made the announcement on Friday (Aug 4).

A veteran of US distributors New Line and Miramax beforejoining Alliance Atlantis in 1998, Sherry will oversee all MPD operations inEnglish Canada.

Bailey and Sherry will have their hands full in the comingmonths, assessing the fall-out from the July fracas while working to re-affirmMPD's primacy as Canada's leading distribution company and to protect theinterests of MPD's international units, UK-based Momentum Pictures andSpain-based Aurum.

Thanks to a "key-man" clause, Loewy's absence is likely toeffect MPD's sub-distribution agreement with New Line Cinema, a lucrativerelationship for the company thanks to such product as the Lord Of The Ringsfranchise. Loewy also has long-standingrelationships with Harvey and Bob Weinstein going back to their Miramax days.

One or both companies might be tempted to switch allegianceif Loewy were to launch a new Canadian distribution entity. Such a move couldhave ramifications for Momentum and Aurum in terms of multi-territory deals.

Should Loewy choose to compete with his old company, oneintriguing route might involve a reunion with his former partner at Alliance,Robert Lantos of Serendipity Point Films.

Lantos owns 50% of New York- and Toronto-based distributorThinkFilm. Alone or with partners, Loewy with a New Line deal could easilyattract investors.

That said, newly-appointed Sherry cannot be discounted as akey-man in his own way. He worked for New Line for seven years between 1987 and1994 and then at Miramax from 1994 to 1997.

In its Julypress release regarding Loewy's exit, MPD, without naming New Linespecifically, said, "Management intends to actively work with that supplier toensure continuity of the relationship."