Canadian distribution and exhibition veteran Tony Cianciotta is leaving Cineplex Odeon Canada (COC), where he held the position senior vp of film, the top booking job at Canada's second-largest exhibitor.

One of the most respected players in the North American industry, Cianciotta told Screen International that the company had offered him a golden parachute and he accepted.

In a separate statement issued the same day (Wednesday), COC announced that Cianciotta's position will be relocated to Los Angeles. Rich Boynton, a one-time AMC booker and most recently a senior sales executive at MGM, will assume the position, reporting to COC president Sam DiMichele.

COC is controlled by Toronto-based Onex Corp through its controlling interest in Loews Cineplex Entertainment. The largest exhibitor in Canada is Famous Players, a subsidiary of US media giant Viacom.

Noting the nationality of the chains' respective ownership, one industry veteran who asked to remain anonymous told Screen International, "It's ironic that the company [Famous] that is owned by Americans turns out to be a more Canadian company than the company [COC] owned by Canadians."

Famous Players spokesperson Nuria Bronfman said the company has a senior booker in Toronto, Michael Kennedy, exec vp film programming, who works with LA-based Michael McCartney, senior exec vp, film programming. Technically, McCartney is the more senior executive but Bronfman said the relationship is collaborative.

COC management responded to the comment with a written statement: "Cineplex Odeon Canada will continue to build on the strength of our Canadian based team led by Robert Wales, vice president of Film and Robert Cousins, director of film. In the Quebec market, Cineplex Odeon will continue to rely on the expertise of Nathalie Fecteau, vice president of film - Quebec and Marie Pierre Coles, director of film - Quebec."

Another insider, who also requested anonymity, said that the issue of a Los Angeles-based booker for a Canadian exhibition company sounds worse than the reality. "You have to have the connections in LA." Canadian distributors contacted for this article were not available for at press time.

Cianciotta, who declined to comment on the nationality issue, said he plans on expanding his consulting work in the marketing and distribution of film in Canada. He began his career in 1965 with the J. Arthur Rank Organisation, which later became Cineplex Odeon. During his career he held senior positions at 20th Century Fox, Alliance Releasing and Red Sky Entertainment, which he co-founded in 1997.

Headquartered in Toronto, COC operates 634 screens in 74 locations. Loews Cineplex operates or has partnerships in 312 theatres and 3,025 screens, including COC's.