GreeneStreet, Gibson's Icon intersect

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TORONTO -- Mel Gibson's Icon Prods. has partnered with GreeneStreet Films to buy sales rights for a number of GreeneStreet's films and library titles. Ariel Veneziano, president of GreeneStreet Films International, is moving to Icon, where he will oversee international sales as the president of Icon Entertainment International.

The move provides GreeneStreet with access to Icon's theatrical distribution in Australia and the U.K. and greater buying power in the marketplace. But with Icon's international sales outfit now in the picture, the future of GreeneStreet International appears to be in doubt.

For now, it will continue with its six-person staff, and Veneziano said that there's "definitely the desire to keep GSFI as a separate entity." But with GreeneStreet producing three to four films a year and GreeneStreet International repping six to eight films, including outside acquisitions, the indie company's international sales faces challenges if it is to avoid having to shutter.

"Does GreeneStreet have enough volume to proceed as a stand-alone entity? They need to strategize and diversify," Veneziano said.

GreeneStreet International will continue operating in its Los Angeles office and will announce shortly the hiring of two new senior executives. As part of the pact, GreeneStreet International and Icon are discussing the possible joint representation of a selection of GreeneStreet's upcoming films.

"Based on our long history with Icon on such films as 'Swimfan,' 'Romance & Cigarettes' and currently on our film 'Awake,' we have been impressed with how consistently they demonstrate great care and thoughtfulness in the positioning of our films," GreeneStreet founder and president John Penotti said. "Ariel's newfound presence on the Icon team brings his intimate knowledge of GreeneStreet's current productions to Icon and will provide continuity in both the sales and servicing of GSF and GSFI's current slate."

Veneziano begins his new position September 17 and will be based in Icon's Los Angeles offices, where he will work with Mark Gooder, president of acquisitions and development, in identifying projects to augment Icon and Icon International's slate. The London office for Icon International, headed by senior international sales manager Anthony Buckner, will report to Veneziano, with support from the newly appointed London-based international sales manager Abby Kadell and sales administration manager Steve Bestwick.

Veneziano plans about 10 films a year with Icon International. "It's become an all-or-nothing marketplace, where films with a certain level of cast and filmmakers are doing well and those without are struggling," he said.

GreeneStreet's slate includes such titles as "Awake," "Tenderness," "Wedding Daze," "Gary the Tennis Coach," "Laws of Motion" and "Unknown." At the Toronto International Film Festival, GreeneStreet International is selling John August's "The Nines" and "Bill."

Icon's slate includes "Push," "Sleepwalking," "The Black Balloon" and "Infestation."
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