Troy Lum has resigned as head of Australia's Dendy Films, a move that may give Richard Payten and Andrew Mackie ultimate responsibility for acquiring films for all three of the distribution entities within the Becker Group. A final decision, however, is unlikely until after Cannes.
Manager director Richard Becker said he was disappointed at losing the talented Lum and wishes him well in his new distribution venture (a subject Lum won't comment on) but added that the departure fits well with his purchase three months ago of Payten and Mackie's distribution, marketing and audience research entity The Globe Group.
His new employees filled the holes left by first Mark Gooder and then Richard Sheffield at the Becker Entertainment (formerly REP) mainstream distribution arm, and the Globe name was retained for servicing other companies and handling limited-release Australian films.
Given the shortage in Australia of skilled distribution executives, the favoured option now is to make one of the pair directly responsible for Becker and the other for the Dendy specialist division.
The three divisions are expected to release about 24 films a year and are currently well stocked. Becker Entertainment has 11 films, four of which are studio titles, waiting for release. They include Crush, A Walk To Remember, Thunderpants, Killing Me Softly, White Oleander and Welcome To Collinwood. Next from Dendy are Together, Tears Of The Black Tiger, And Your Mother Too (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and Lovely And Amazing.
Becker inherited Lum with the purchase of Dendy Films and Dendy Cinemas in 1997, then promoted him. His acquisitions of films such as The Blair Witch Project, The Buena Vista Social Club, All About My Mother, Amelie and In The Mood For Love have given him a reputation beyond his 27 years.
"The more successful local distributors there are, the better it is for each of us," said Becker, who is often outspoken about the difficulties of competing with the majors. "Everyone is suffering, but it is better to be part of a brotherhood when the majors start gobbling up titles. Having strong independents stabilises the market."