Weinsteins fire up Third Rail

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The Weinstein Co. is launching a new distribution banner named Third Rail Releasing. George A. Romero's "Diary of the Dead," which opens Friday, will be the first movie out of the gate.

Third Rail's goal is to showcase what the company describes as "inventive and edgy vanguard films" from independent and maverick filmmakers with an aim to use "groundbreaking" marketing tools. The Weinstein Co. is partnering with independent home entertainment distribution company Genius Products, which it co-owns, on the venture, and plans to release six to 10 movies a year.

The Weinstein Co. already runs the well-established genre arm (and company profit leader) Dimension Films. While launching a new banner might seem redundant or an unnecessary addition, the company said Third Rail is not another genre label, despite launching with "Dead."

The Weinstein Co. said the label is the best way to properly market and maximize revenue on low-budget films of all kinds, either around the same budget range as the $3 million-$4 million "Dead" or lower. Films with bigger budgets and boxoffice potential like the Denzel Washington drama "The Great Debaters" or a horror franchise entry like Rob Zombie's "Halloween" will continue to be released by the Weinstein Co., Dimension or in partnership with MGM or other distributors.

Maximizing home entertainment profitability through Genius is another key goal of Third Rail; there are no plans for day-and-date releasing of its titles.

The launch is being heralded as the first in a series of strategic and operational moves the company plans to make with the recent addition of Lee Solomon as COO. In the newly created position, Solomon has been given the mandate to create innovative opportunities.

Borys Kit reported from Berlin; Gregg Goldstein reported from New York.
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