Unapix Entertainment, the New York film and TV production and distribution outfit whose shares stopped trading on the American Stock Exchange last week, has filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Unapix expects that its primary lender, G.E. Capital Corp, will bail the company out with a revolving credit facility of up to $40m in order for Unapix to continue operating its core businesses. The credit line would be subject to approval from the US Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York.

Also subject to court approval, Unapix says it plans to retain the West Coast investment banking firm of Salem Partners LLC "to seek strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of the company and new financing."

The Unapix annual shareholders' meeting, which was scheduled for December 11, has now been cancelled.

The latest signs of difficulties at Unapix came last week when it delayed filing its financial results for the three months ending September 30, 2000. At that point the American Stock Exchange halted trading on the stock and initiated a review to determine whether Unapix is in compliance with the exchange's continued listing guidelines.

In August, concerns grew over the future of Unapix when Lions Gate Films took over US distribution duties on the Sundance Film Festival competition entry Urbania from Unapix Films Theatrical. At the same time the New York outfit announced it had terminated its sale of a 25% stake to German entertainment company H5B5 Media for $4m. H5B5 was due to take three seats on Unapix's 11-member board of directors.

Earlier this year, Unapix hired Richard Abramowitz, formerly of Stratosphere Entertainment, to head Unapix Films Theatrical as part of an ambitious plan to become a vertically integrated mini-conglomerate. In the end, the only film that was theatrically released in the US by Unapix was Ron Mann's marijuana documentary Grass.

Among its assets, Unapix has a library of some 160 titles and a proven strength releasing niche independent titles in the domestic home video market through its distribution subsidiary, A-Pix Entertainment.