HBO Films London is shutting up shop andrelocating to New York and Los Angeles.

Themove follows the HBO Films partnership with New Line in the newly-formedindependent US theatrical distribution company, Picturehouse,

"With greater focus from HBO Films onproducing theatrical films, we feel our new international theatricaldistribution activities will be most effectively handled if headquartered outof Los Angeles and New York rather than London," HBO said in a statement today.

"It has been a painful move."

HBO Films London managing director PennyWolf said she was disappointed but understood the decision.

"This isn't about closing down HBO filmsbut about relocating the sales operation in LA."

Wolf's team has completed the key dealson its current crop of completed films, including Gus Van Sant's Last Days.

Those in production, including MaryHarron's The Notorious Bettie Page will be handled from LA.

"Of course, there will be loose ends butby the time the films are ready the LA operation will have all its ducks in arow," says Wolf.

HBO Film's London has enjoyed majorsuccesses at the key festivals, where it forged close links with organisers.

Gus Van Sant's Elephant picked up thePalme d'Or and best director prize at Cannes 2003 and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in the same year. AmericanSplendor won best first film at Berlin 2004 and Maria Full of Grace wasOscar-nominated.

The location in London was a factor inthe award success, says Wolf.

"It was a huge advantage to be in Europeand close to the festivals. But that has to be weighed up against theadvantages of having all the business in LA."

Wolf says she will take the summer offand consider her options in the autumn.

"It's been a fantastic two and a halfyears," she said.