Madstone Theaters, the US exhibition upstart that plans to create a new generation of art-house multiplexes equipped with digital projectors, has hired veteran film executiveJim Sheehan (pictured left) as its president.

Previously president and chief operating officer of the Mann Theaters circuit and, most recently, MGM's vice president of sales administration,Sheehan is to be based now in Madstone's newly-opened Los Angeles office,where he will head-up all its exhibition activities. Sheehan reports directly to Madstone's chief executive officers and co-founders, Tom Gruenberg and Chip Seelig, both of whom are based in New York City.

Madstone's game-plan calls for retrofitted multiplexes to be opened in 10-20 cities acrossthe US over the course of the next year with initial locations announcedshortly. While most of its programming will be traditionally projectedspecialist fare, this will be supplemented with more diverse entertainmentprogramming that will be transmitted digitally via the Madstone DDN (DigitalDistribution Network).

With at least one digitalscreen in each multiplex, Madstone DDN says it will offer patrons a range ofprogramming never before available in a theatrical setting. The exhibition ofthis content will be made possible by digital networking, projection andaudience input.

Already, MadstoneDDN has installed a digital projector (a BARCO D-CineStar Digital Cinema projection system based on the Texas Instruments DLP Cinematechnology) that is located in the Loews E-Walk on 42ndStreet in Manhattan. This popular projector is currently being used for publicscreenings (a digitally-projected Shrekplayed to sold-out crowds during its extended summer run), as well as forprivate events and technology demonstrations.

"I am thrilled to joina company as forward thinking as Madstone," said Jim Sheehan. "Sophisticated audiences are hungry for a more upscale theatre-goingexperience and Madstone Theaters will offer just the kind of modern style andcommunity involvement that moviegoers have been hungering for."

In addition to Madstone DDN,Madstone Theaters' other sister company is Madstone Films, an independentfeature production company looking to develop emerging directors. Madstone wasfounded in 1999 by financier Seelig (Goldman Sachs) and film production/distributionexecutive Gruenberg.