Former New Line Cinema president and COO of distribution Mitch Goldman has launched The Premiere Group, a new marketing and distribution operation that intends to guarantee Hollywood-level films a wide release in the US.

J.P. Morgan will arrange a revolving credit facility of at least $100 million to partly back The Premiere Group's print and advertising costs. The company is close to reaching an agreement with Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment to release its home video and DVD titles under the Premiere Home Video banner and is currently in talks with two major pay cable networks.

Goldman's is looking to put out mainstream feature films "on a scale comparable to major studio theatrical releases," he says. Premiere releases will be treated to a minimum of 2,000 screens and $15m in pre-opening and first week prints & advertisting expenditures.

"We're planning our first release by mid-August and will announce our slate in the near future" Goldman told Screen International yesterday. "Aside from our credit with JP Morgan, we are raising equity from private investors. We've been inundated with projects and have our first year almost filled up."

Premiere Group plans to distribute at least six films in its first year and increase its average release slate to more than a dozen per annum thereafter. "By releasing 12 to 14 films per year rather than the typical studio slate of 25 films or more, each of our films will receive more hands-on involvement by our executive team than is possible at the studios," explained Goldman.

However, Premiere will not put up development or production financing, thereby "eliminating development hell and delayed greenlighting of projects," Goldman said. "We have designed The Premiere Group to become 'the' producer-friendly haven for filmmakers who want to maximise their profits, obtain swift, accurate and reliable accounting and become fully involved in their film's marketing and distribution campaigns," he added.

The Premiere Group does not rule out assisting producers in obtaining gap production financing and foreign pre sales. It will consider films as early as the script stage but will limit its choices to those suitable for broad domestic release.

Goldman has assembled a core executive team of seasoned film professionals led by Lewis O'Neil as president of distribution, Linda Goldenberg as executive vice president of marketing, Barry Glasser as executive vice president of acquisitions, Douglas L. Lowell as chief financial officer and Sandy Finkel as vice president of media and research. They will head a staff of 40 to 50 industry professionals.