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Bob Berney unexpectedly exits Apparition

May 10, 2010 |  7:23 pm

Berney Less than a year after launching his new independent distribution company Apparition, Bob Berney has unexpectedly left the company.

Berney's partner Bill Pohlad, whose wealthy family has financially backed the company, informed Apparition staff of Berney's sudden resignation in an e-mail Monday, a studio spokeswoman confirmed.

"I suspect that this news comes as a surprise to many of you," he wrote. "It certainly did to me."

Berney could not be reached for comment.

The news was first reported on

Though Apparition had enough funds to begin its work last summer, Pohlad and Berney were still looking to raise more money at the time.

The studio has released five movies in its short life. "The Young Victoria" and "Boondock Saints II" performed fairly well, grossing $11 million and $10.3 million, respectively, while director Jane Campion's "Bright Star" took in just $4.4 million. The highly publicized "The Runaways," based on the band of the same name, was a disappointment with $3.5 million, and satire "Black Dynamite" managed less than $250,000. Thriller "The Square" is currently in theaters and has grossed $218,000 in five weeks.

Berney co-founded Apparition after his previous venture, Picturehouse, was shut down by Warner Bros.

He had been set to head to the Cannes Film Festival this week. It's now unclear what the fate of the studio is.

In his e-mail, Pohlad said that Valerie Bruce, senior vice president of business affairs, will serve as interim chief operating officer for Apparition.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Bob Berney, left, with actress Kristen Stewart and business partner Bill Pohlad at the premiere of "The Runaways" in March. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images.