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Bob Berney to exit FilmDistrict; distribution ops consolidating in L.A.

November 4, 2011 |  1:19 pm

After barely a year on the job, veteran executive Bob Berney is leaving as head of distribution for independent studio FilmDistrict, which last week released the box office disappointment "The Rum Diary," starring Johnny Depp.

The company said that Berney and his wife, Jeanne, executive vice president of marketing, will depart  in March and that the New York distribution operation they head will be consolidated into FilmDistrict's Santa Monica headquarters.

A total of 28 people -- more than half of FilmDistrict's staff -- will either relocate to Los Angeles from New York or lose their jobs by the end of the year as part of the consolidation. The Berneys decided not to make the move and will leave when their contracts expire.

In a statement, FilmDistrict chief executive Peter Schlessel said it had become too difficult for the company to have its distribution and marketing run out of New York while production, acquisitions and its business staff are in Santa Monica.

FilmDistrict was founded in 2010 by producer Graham King and his financing partner Tim Headington, along with Schlessel. The distributor's first release, in April, was the horror hit "Insidious," followed by the thriller "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," the critically acclaimed drama "Drive," and "Rum Diary."

This will mark the second brief tenure for Berney since Picturehouse, the independent film division he ran for Warner Bros. that the Time Warner Inc. studio shut down in 2008. After that, he lasted about a year at Apparition, the short-lived independent studio he founded with producer Bill Pohlad, before leaving.

In an interview Berney said that he "remains committed to independent film and distribution" but has yet to determine what his next move will be after leaving FilmDistrict.

A spokeswoman said FilmDistrict is likely to seek new top distribution and marketing executives to replace the Berneys.

The distributor's next release is Angelina Jolie's feature directorial debut, "In The Land of Blood and Honey," on Dec. 23.


Industry veteran Bob Berney joins Graham King's new domestic distribution firm

-- Ben Fritz