After weeks teetering on the brink of failure, Itemus inc. filed for bankruptcy yesterday. The Toronto-based internet incubator was brought down by the obligations of its Shooting Gallery subsidiary, which it purchased in April 2001.

In a letter to shareholders posted on the company's website yesterday, itemus chairman Jim Tobin wrote: "we simply have run out of cash."

Tobin said the company's demise was not a result of "doing too much too fast", but on the "bottomless" problems related to Shooting Gallery.

In June, Shooting gallery, the New York-based production and distribution outfit, producer of such films as Swing Blade and You Can Count On Me, sent shockwaves through the US independent film industry when it announced it was insolvent. At that time, itemus learned it was responsible for up to $10m in liabilities. Tobin suggested that itemus trustees pursue legal action against appropriate persons involved in the Shooting Gallery acquisition. Former Shooting Gallery executives are already embroiled in a number of legal actions relating to the collapse.

A late product of the dotcom boom, itemus attracted a number of respected Canadian business executives. Ironically, itemus always made it clear it had no interest in entering the film business.