New Line Cinema and HBOFilms have officially launched their new US specialised distribution jointventure, announcing the name of the company - Picturehouse - and unveiling thefirst nine picture-slate.

Diane Arbus biopic Fur starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr anddirected by Steven Shainberg was named as the first film to be financed by theventure, with New Line International handling international sales.

Jointly owned by theTimeWarner sister companies, Picturehouse will release between eight and 10eclectic titles each year without budget cap, servicing all HBO theatricalprojects, certain New Line productions, HBO and New Line co-productions, andacquisitions.

Goingforward, New Line Cinema co-chairman Michael Lynne said international distributionoptions would be handled on a picture-by-picture basis.

Based out of New York andreporting to HBO Films president Colin Callender and New Line co-chairmanMichael Lynne, Picturehouse president Berney will have authority to makeacquisition and greenlight decisions in time-sensitive situations like markets.At other times all three will consult on greenlighting.

Berney will run a team of 33staff, including six operating out of a West Coast office. His longtimecolleague Robert Schwartz becomes chief operating officer, while MarianKoltai-Levine, formerly of Fine Line, and Dennis O'Connor, formerly of HBOFilms, will serve as executive vice presidents of marketing based in the EastCoast and West Coast offices respectively. Former United Artist executive SaraRose joins as senior vice president of acquisitions. All four will report toBerney.

Former Newmarket Filmsdistribution executives Bill Thompson and John Lange will serve as senior vicepresidents and co-general sales managers and will report to Schwartz.

HBO Films president ColinCallender said Picturehouse will release all HBO theatrical projects, which hesaid would allow HBO to develop a "a more commercial idiom".

Of the nine Picturehousefilms announced, two were brand new acquisitions - Raymond de Felitta's roadmovie The Thing About My Folksstarring Falk and Paul Reiser, and Giddi Dar's Israeli drama Ushpizin.

Existing Newmarket Filmstitles going out through Picturehouse in 2005 are Don Argott's documentary RockSchool, Ari Posin's TheChumscrubber and MichaelWinterbottom's A Cock And Bull Story.

HBO Films titles set forrelease through Picturehouse are Cannes competition entry Last Days which will open on July 22, and two in 2006 - MaryHarron's biopic The Notorious Betty Page starring Gretchen Moll and Lili Taylor and Kenneth Branagh's 19thcentury Japan-set adaptation of As You Like It, starring Kevin Kline, Bryce Dallas Howard andBranagh.