Mark Ordesky, the presidentof Fine Line Features and the production executive who oversaw New Line'sLord Of The Rings trilogy, hastaken a major step up in the New Line hierarchy being named executive vicepresident and chief operating officer of New Line Productions. He will reportdirectly to Toby Emmerich who is president and CEO of the division.

Ordesky, who has been at NewLine for 14 years, will oversee the day-to-day operations of New Line'sproduction staff, while continuing to be the senior executive at Fine Linewhose staff report to him.

Ordesky's future hasbeen the subject of much speculation of late, especially given his pivotal roleon The Lord Of The Rings filmswhich will have grossed close to $3bn for New Line by the end of their run inearly 2004. He has also steered Fine Line away from being anacquisitions-driven specialized arm - although he aggressively pursuedand landed Sundance grand jury prize-winner American Splendor recently - to being an upscale production label of NewLine. He recently started production on the first Fine Line film of this era -Jonathan Glazer's Birthwhich has begun shooting in New York City with a budget of $23m and a castheaded by Nicole Kidman. With his contract up at the end of the year, it wasassumed that it was only a matter of time before he would take up a bigger roleat New Line or elsewhere.

"My primary job is tohelp make things happen on the New Line slate," Ordesky told Screendailyyesterday. "I will continue overseeing Fine Line but will now look at itlike a label. In the team of executives which I oversee, some are looking forLars Von Trier or Jonathan Glazer movies and some are looking for the nextAustin Powers." Operationally, he divides his job into three divisions,New Line Productions, Fine Line's in-house productions, and acquisitionsfor both New Line and Fine Line. He stressed that he will continue to attendthe Cannes, Sundance and Toronto film festivals. "I will be exactly whereI always am," he added.

"Mark is a goodman," Emmerich said yesterday. "He is the perfect number two inwhat I hope to do with New Line Productions over the next couple ofyears."

It is not surprising thatOrdesky is seen by many as a natural successor to Emmerich, who himselfsucceeded Michael De Luca in Jan 2001. Now that De Luca-initiated films aredrying up and Emmerich's slate is taking over, all eyes are on the 2003films released by the studio. Final Destination 2, which opened on Jan 31, has taken a strong $40.3m.Next up is horror remake Willardon March 14 and the summer has Dumb And Dumber prequel When Harry Met Lloyd: Dumb And Dumberer (June 13) and Mandy Moore-starrer How To Deal (July 18). Later in the year are another horrorremake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(Oct 17) and Will Ferrell Christmas comedy Elf (Nov 7), before the final act in the Lord Of TheRings trilogy The Return Of TheKing on Dec 17. Other releasesinclude the long-completed A Man Apart (formerly Diablo) starringVin Diesel on Apr 4, Freddy Vs Jason (Aug 15), Secondhand Lions with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall (tbc)and supernatural thriller pick-up The Butterfly Effect starring Ashton Kutcher which is getting good buzz.

Ordesky worked under RuthVitale at Fine Line, acquiring Shine among other films, before becomingpresident of the division at the tender age of 34. Among the films he hasbrought into the company are The Sweet Hereafter, Before Night Falls, DancerIn The Dark, Besieged and SavingGrace.