Momentum Pictures, the independent UK distributor which last year had a market share of 1.3%, is set for a growth spurt. Xavier Marchand, the new managing director, has revealed further details of the company's plans to move into Europe and to beef up its British presence.

"The onus is on us to expand the company," Marchand told "We have to look at opportunities to buy distribution companies and libraries."

Marchand will have plentiful funds for this expansion. In October 2003, its Canadian-based parent Alliance Atlantis raised over $200m by selling a 49% stake in its Distribution Group (of which Momentum is part) through its "Movie Distribution Income Fund." The media giant is already the dominant force in Canadian distribution. With little room to grow there, it is looking to Europe - and to Momentum - instead.

Momentum is now actively tracking distribution companies to acquire in key European territories. "They can be the size of Momentum or bigger," Marchand stated. France, Germany and Spain are the first three territories under consideration. The idea is that the outfits acquired will have their own managing directors, reporting in to Marchand.

There are no plans to build up companies from scratch. "One of the parameters of the fund is that we can't do start-ups," Marchand said.

The Momentum boss, who succeeded David Kosse at the beginning of the year, has even raised the possibility that the UK distributor may buy up one of its British rivals. Patrice Theroux, Motion Picture Distribution LP's President and Chief Operating Officer, has confirmed that such a move would receive the full support of the parent company. "If it's a business opportunity, it's absolutely something we would think about," he told

Recent Momentum releases in the UK include The Magdalene Sisters and Bowling For Columbine and Lost In Translation. Upcoming releases include Richard Eyre's Stage Beauty and Paul Morrison's Wondrous Oblivion.