Studio veteran Chris McGurk named CEO of digital cinema company Cinedigm
McGurk, a 22-year movie industry veteran, on Monday was named chief executive of Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. The firm installs digital cinema projectors and software and also distributes movies, pre-show advertisements and other content to theaters via satellite.
Cinedigm has struggled to shore up its balance sheet since the credit markets collapsed in 2009, closing a $172.5-million credit facility in May and another for $75 million in November.
Since June, when former head Dale "Bud" Mayo left, Cinedigm has been led by a pair of senior executives who served as interim co-CEOs.
McGurk was most recently chief executive of Overture Films, which was shuttered by parent company Liberty Media this last summer after a disappointing run over the last three years prompted owner John Malone to sour on the movie business. McGurk was previously chief operating officer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal Pictures and was president of the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group.
In an interview, McGurk said he was satisfied that Cinedigm has resolved its financial issues and that he thought it was well positioned for growth as more theaters switch to digital projection and look for alternative content. Because studios are producing fewer films, he said he would seek out other types of non-mainstream content, such as sporting and arts events and small independent movies, to distribute through Cinedigm's system directly to theaters.
"We're going to hopefully provide a whole new business model to exhibitors," he said.
Cinedigm has about 6,000 screens across the U.S. and is looking to install a total of 10,000, McGurk said. It's the nation's second largest digital cinema technology provider after DCIP, a partnership of the major theater chains AMC, Regal and Cinemark.
McGurk was known to be on the hunt for a new opportunity most of last year, as Overture was up for sale by Liberty since early 2010. The executive said his experience meeting with potential investors and buyers influenced his decision to take the job at Cinedigm.
"I saw that money was beginning to come back to entertainment, but [investors] didn't want to invest in traditional production or releasing," he said. "Investors are now focused on new media and digital businesses. This is that kind of opportunity."
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Chris McGurk. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.