After months of speculationWarner Bros officially unveiled Warner Independent Pictures yesterday, its newspecialty division that will be headed up by former Miramax LA and Stratus Film Co president Mark Gill.
As president of the new division Gill willoversee all aspects of business including development, production, acquisition,marketing and distribution, reporting directly to Warner Bros Picturespresident of production Jeff Robinov.
The move ends thestudio's status as the only US major without a lower-budget productionand releasing banner and furthers its wider aim of becoming all things to allpotential audiences.
In a statement Warner BrosEntertainment president and chief operating officer Alan Horn said Robinov andGill were the "perfect team", adding that Gill's wide-rangingexperience made him "uniquely qualified to lead our efforts".
Speaking to Screendaily,Gill said: "The idea is to put out somewhere between five and 10 movies ayear, some of which will be aimed at the prestigious market - possibly with aneye on awards - and in addition to them we want to work in any number ofgenres." Projects will be budgeted up to $20m.
"Jeff and I will worktogether with my team to find projects, put them together, budget them, castthem and put them together," he continued. Ultimate greenlight authoritywill remain with Horn.
No titles have beenannounced yet but Gill said: "We won't be sitting on our hands. Wewill move very quickly and Toronto is around the corner so we shall see whathappens."
Annual slates will compriseacquisitions and original productions, although Gill expected acquisitions toaccount for roughly one quarter of initial output given the decline in thatside of the business.
Housed on the Warner BrosStudios lot in Burbank, Warner Independent will benefit from its parentcompany's network of film-makers and producers, not least of which isSteven Soderbergh and George Clooney's Warner-based production companySection Eight which it is hoped will become an important supplier to the new division.
Certainly Section Eight projects such as Nine Queens remake Criminal and triptych Erosdirected by Soderbergh, Wong kar-wai and Michelangelo Antonioni would be idealfor the new division as would the Michael Cunningham adaptation A Home AtThe End Of The World to which thestudio has domestic rights.
Gill will also haveWarner's international foreign-language production and distributionarrangements to call upon, and said he was particularly keen to foster strongrelationships with UK and other European film-makers.
He will now set aboutassembling a lean team with dedicated staff in publicity, marketing, businessaffairs, production and acquisitions, but declined to discuss specifics.
Steven Raphael, the formeracquisitions and co-productions executive at USA Films, is one of the namesbeing touted as a new recruit at the company, but Gill wouldn't commenton any speculation.
Gill arrives from StratusFilm Co, the partnership between producer-financier Bob Yari andproducer Mark Gordon, where he developed and served as executive producer onseveral titles including the currently shooting Laws Of Attraction starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore.Discussion over departure from his Stratus contract is one of the reasons forthe delay in the official announcement.
Gill started out as apublicist before graduating to top marketing jobs at Columbia and TriStarPictures and Miramax, where he eventually served five years as president ofMiramax LA.