Starzhas launched its long-awaited theatrical division Overture Films, which willproduce, acquire and distribute eight to 12 full-length films a year.
ChrisMcGurk is named chief executive officer and McGurk's former colleague at MGMDanny Rosett becomes chief operating officer.
LosAngeles-based Overture Films, a wholly owned subsidiary of Starz, which itselfis a part of John Malone's Liberty Media Corp empire, will handle domestic andinternational distribution.
Televisionand home entertainment platforms are already taken care of courtesy of amulti-year output deal with Starz Entertainment - including Starz premiumchannels and Vongo - and a distribution deal with Starz HomeEntertainment. Other domestic and international arrangements have yet to be finalized.
Thestudio said it would form collaborative relationships with filmmakers and"take creative risks and break new ground" on a slate that it saidwould comprise 60% original titles and will begin releasing in mid-2007.
"Unburdenedby the infrastructure and red tape of big studios, Overture Films will providea unique opportunity for creativetalent to return to the fundamentals of film making - original stories,gifted actors and innovative directors," said McGurk, who will report toStarz chairman and chief executive officer Robert B Clasen.
"Atour studio the creative talent will be central not just in making the films butin helping to develop and execute the marketing and promotional campaigns,including the Internet. Overture Films will embrace and empower talent as truepartners in the entire process of making and distributing films."
"Overthe next few months, we will build the team that will be responsible forproducing and distributing these films," Rosett continued. "We expectto make further announcements about our team, alliances with film makers andinternational distribution plans in the coming months."
"ChrisMcGurk and Danny Rosett are superb studio executives with great track recordswho will operate Overture Films with a favorable business model and creativeautonomy," Clasen said.
"Overtureis the keystone for the new structure at Starz. It complements the home video,television production, animated film, international sales and other units thatwere combined with the Starz premium channel business in August when LibertyMedia purchased IDT Entertainment. Starz is now a fully integrated mediacompany with the ability to produce any kind of programming and distribute thatprogramming across all platforms."
McGurkserved as vice chairman and chief operating officer at MGM from 1999-2005.Rosett held a range of executive roles at MGM from 1994-2005, includingpresident of United Artists.