Bingham Ray has joined Los Angeles-based financing and production company Sidney Kimmel Entertainment (SKE) as president of the newly formed Kimmel Distribution.

Ray's appointment begins immediately and he reports directly to SKE president and chief operating officer Jim Tauber.

SKE president of marketing and distribution Mark Kristol will continue his duties within the new division and reports to Ray.

The new division will manage and oversee the creation and implementation of all domestic marketing activities and distribution strategies for SKE's slate, which includes Frank Oz's comedy Death At A Funeral, Kasi Lemmons' Talk To Me, and Jon Poll's Charlie Bartlett.

Ray will also head the company's accelerated plans to acquire features for worldwide distribution in conjunction with Kimmel International. SKE films are being distributed through its overall distribution deal with MGM with select films being released by other studios, including Focus Features, Paramount Vantage and Universal.

Going forward, all advertising, publicity, marketing services, creative marketing, and distribution related activities and responsibilities concerning SKE productions and acquisitions will be funneled through the new in-house division working in concert with SKE's studio distribution partners.

MGM will release Death At A Funeral on Jun 29 and Charlie Bartlett on Aug 3, while Focus Features will release Talk To Me on Jul 20. Paramount Vantage will release Marc Forster's The Kite Runner in the autumn. SKE will begin production next month on Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut Synecdoche, New York in time for a 2008 release.

'Bingham's vast experience in the marketing, distribution and acquisition of motion pictures combined with Mark's own talents and experience, positions SKE to more efficiently generate and execute the marketing campaigns and distribution plans for the films we finance, produce and acquire,' Tauber said.

'By bringing everything in-house, our business model is infinitely better suited to serve our filmmakers and filmmaking partners, providing consistency and concentrated attention to each film.'

'Sidney Kimmel Entertainment is a growing, aggressive motion picture company with a solid business plan, and great taste in films,' Ray said. 'I am particularly partial to its independent spirit, which it has married to a studio sensibility for commercial, cross over films for worldwide audiences.

'I am genuinely thrilled to play a part in achieving Kimmel Distribution's long-range goals, taking us through the production and distribution of its many films to come over the next several years.'

Ray is a film industry veteran of 25 years and has worked on such films as Lost Highway, Breaking The Waves, Cookie's Fortune, Igby Goes Down, Pieces Of April, Jeepers Creepers 1 and 2, Secrets & Lies, and The Apostle.

He was named president of United Artists in September 2001 and prior to that co-founded October Films in 1991 and served as its co-president until its sale to USA Networks in 1999. He previously worked at New Yorker Films, The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Columbia Pictures, and Avenue Pictures.