Alliance, Overture ink distrib'n deal

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TORONTO -- Canadian distributor Alliance Films has inked a deal to release Overture Films titles in Canada through 2010.

The multiyear distribution deal, unveiled Tuesday, gives Alliance, formerly Motion Picture Distribution LLP, rights to an initial 8-12 Overture titles released annually in Canada.

The agreement kicks off Jan. 25 with "Mad Money," directed by Callie Khouri and starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes.

"(Alliance Films) are one-stop shopping for us," Overture CEO Chris McGurk said, pointing to the Canadian distributor's theatrical releasing arm, home video distribution and nationwide pay TV footprint.

"And there's no one as talented as (Alliance executive chairman) Victor (Loewy). He's part of the landscape in Canada," McGurk added. "There's no one in his league."

Alliance Films also releases titles from Miramax, New Line, the Weinstein Co. and Focus Features.

For his part, Alliance Films' Loewy said he was drawn to Overture's "well-seasoned team," led by McGurk and COO Danny Rosett. He also pointed to Overture's deep pockets via backing from John Malone's Liberty Media.

"We really like the team running Overture," Loewy said. "They're fully in place to go. Everyone is from a studio. That's why we really wanted to make the deal with them."

The deal itself was more than a year in the making. McGurk and Loewy -- whose association dates back to McGurk's executive stint at Disney while Loewy handled Miramax pictures in Canada -- started with initial talks at the 2006 Festival de Cannes.

But no final deal could be inked until recent corporate turmoil at Alliance Films ended when Goldman Sachs & Co. bought Canada's largest indie film distributor and installed Loewy as its head.

The Overture pact is the latest in a string of Canadian output deals signed as newly minted film studios backed by equity funds look for homes for their product.

Last week, Summit Entertainment signed an agreement with North American home video distributor Entertainment One that will see subsidiary Seville Entertainment release Summit titles in Canada and Contender Films manage all rights in the U.K. through 2010.

The Overture deal with Alliance represents another plank in the Los Angeles-based company's global distribution plan, according to McGurk. He already has U.S. theatrical and home entertainment distribution via Anchor Bay Entertainment and a pay TV output deal stateside with Starz Entertainment.

And Overture recently signed an international distribution arrangement with Paramount Vantage International and Paramount International.

Other movies in Alliance's Overture pipeline include Tom McCarthy's "The Visitor," recently acquired in Toronto, and "Traitor," an espionage thriller starring Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce that Overture is producing.

Overture also is in development on "105 Degrees and Rising," an ensemble piece set against the backdrop of the fall of Saigon, to be directed by Jon Amiel.
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