US independent distributor Wellspring appears to have been shutdown this week as parent company Genius Products announced a strategiccorporate shift.
Genius, which acquired Wellspring last year and later in the yearcompleted a deal with The Weinstein Co (TWC) whereby TWC gained a controllinginterest in Genius, said TWC would handle Wellspring's theatrical releasesexclusively in North America.
Wellspring's home entertainment distribution operation, whichincludes a 700-title library, will transfer to Genius' Los Angeles headquarters,creating savings in the region of $1m.
It is understood that Wellspring's theatrical distribution staffincluding the well-liked senior vice president of acquisitions and distributionMarie-Therese Guirgis have been laid off. TWC and Genius sources declined toconfirm this.
"This realignment supports an aggressive acquisition campaignto build on the Wellspring brand with critically acclaimed films that celebrateintelligent cinema, while at the same time, supporting our strategy ofleveraging our core competency by focusing on the sales and distribution ofhigher margin, packaged entertainment products at retail," Genius Products chief executive officer TrevorDrinkwater said.
"Genius remains committedto the independent film industry and we are moving forward with indie releases.We're just going to handle them in a different manner than we did before.
RecentWellspring acquisitions include Rupert Murray's documentary Unknown WhiteMale, Steve James'documentary Reel Paradise, and Thomas Vinterberg's anti-gun drama Dear Wendy. Among remaining titles to release arePatrice Chereau's latest film Gabrielle.