Jim Sherry, the former managing director of Alliance Atlantis' Motion Picture Distribution (AAC MDP), is joining Toronto-based distributor Maple Pictures as co-president.
Sherry will share the presidency with current co-president Laurie May while colleague Brad Pelman will become COO. Pelman will also head up Maple Films, a new branded distribution label.
Sherry, a long-time executive at AAC, was appointed managing director following the 2006 schism at MDP that saw the departure of vice-chairman Victor Loewy and the firing of CEO Patrice Theroux.
In turn, Sherry was ousted from his position following the 2007 takeover of AAC and MDP's subsequent reconstitution as Alliance Films with Loewy as chairman.
Since then, Sherry, who previously held positions at New Line Cinema and Miramax Films, has been consulting with Maple. Industry sources say Sherry has been courting Miramax to establish an output deal with Maple. Sherry's move into the co-presidency suggests an announcement is in the offing. Maple's Laurie May would not comment on the speculation. 'We have nothing more to announce for the moment,' she said. Miramax declined to comment.
Maple is handling Canadian distribution on two Miramax titles, Brideshead Revisited and Mike Leigh's Happy Go Lucky. May described both deals as one-offs.
In April of this year Miramax ended its 14-year relationship with the Alliance brand, self-releasing Smart People in Canada through its status as a Disney subsidiary. Only major studios can distribute third-party acquisitions directly in Canada. Miramax picked up Smart People in January 2007 from LA-based Groundswell Productions.
Speaking earlier this year, Loewy said he had declined to renew the Miramax output deal because the higher fees the company sought were unjustified by the performance of recent Miramax titles.
Maple was founded in 2005, following a management buy-out of the Canadian film distribution holdings of Lions Gate Entertainment. Maple has an output deal with Lions Gate, which will deliver it the upcoming My Best Friend's Girl starring Kate Hudson, and Oliver Stone's George Bush biopic W. The company also has Steve McQueen's Camera d'Or winner Hunger, acquired from Icon Entertainment International.
Meanwhile, Alliance Films has trumpeted its position as Canada's top distributor. The company said yesterday its three new releases, Burn After Reading, Righteous Kill and The Women, took the top three spots on the weekend box office. Combined with its other releases, Alliance said it had a 53 per cent share of the weekend's takings. Thus far in 2008, the company has box office revenues of C$86m, making it the third-highest grossing distributor in Canada, including the major studios.