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Exclusive Media international president Alex Walton is exiting the troubled production and financing company to launch his own foreign sales outfit, Bloom, where he’ll continue to represent existing Exclusive titles.
Walton has found a powerful backer and partner in Ken Kao, the emerging film financier and producer who is heir to the Garmin fortune.
The auteur-minded Kao, whose first credit was the gritty crime drama Rampart, is currently in post-production on two upcoming Terrence Malick films: Knight of Cups starring Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett, and an untitled film starring Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Blanchett, Portman and Rooney Mara. Kao is also an executive producer on Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Silence.
Walton and Kao will debut their new sales company in Cannes, and will shop Gus Van Sant’s Sea of Trees to international buyers. Kao is producing and financing Sea of Trees, starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, through his Waypoint Entertainment (CAA and WME are representing domestic rights).
Walton’s departure from Exclusive comes as the Los Angeles-based venture continues to downsize following the departures of co-chairman Nigel Sinclair and Guy East this spring. Giant Dutch hedge fund Dasym, a majority owner in Exclusive, was intent on restructuring the company following several box office misses in the U.S., including Ron Howard’s Rush.
The first thing to go was Exclusive’s production ambitions. Now, with the shuttering of the international sales operation, Exclusive will focus on its library of more than 800 titles and Hammer Films.
In what is being billing as a seamless transition, Walton will continue to represent Exclusive’s existing slate of films, as well as Exclusive’s third-party producer titles.
At Exclusive, the widely respected Walton oversaw sales and all aspects of international distribution, including for Rush, David Ayer’s End of Watch, George Clooney’s The Ides Of March, James Watkin‘s The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, Peter Weir’s The Way Back and Matt Reeves’ Let Me In.
Walton and Kao say they will build a diversified slate of films, from commercial, talent-driven titles to specialty films from proven filmmakers. They’ll also foster emerging talent.
“Ken and I have similar tastes and ambitions, I am delighted to have found a partner who is committed to creating a new voice in the film community,” said Walton. “We will have the resources to be flexible financially and look to build partnerships with our network of international distributors and producers.”
Added Kao: “Sea of Trees represents the kind of content we strive to create — an elegant artistic script, an internationally renowned auteur, a movie star at the top of his game, and entertainment value that can appeal to audiences around the world.”
Written by Chris Sparling (Buried), Sea of Trees follows a man’s journey across a dense forest lapping the foothills of Mount Fuji described by many as the perfect place to die and an encounter with a lost Japanese man and their resulting struggle to survive.
Exclusive titles that Bloom will service include John Carney’s Begin Again starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, A Walk Among the Tombstones starring Liam Neeson, Dark Places starring Charlize Theron, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, Skiptrace starring Jackie Chan, and Pele, the biopic about the legendary Brazilian soccer player, and Brian Kirk’s Passengers starring Keanu Reeves.
Before Exclusive, Walton worked at Paramount Vantage and HanWay Films in the U.K.
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