Bob Berney Relaunching Picturehouse, Signs Output Deal with Netflix

Bob Berney Headshot - P 2011
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Bob Berney Headshot - P 2011

"Metallica Through the Never," its first release, will bow Aug. 9.

Veteran marketing and distribution executive Bob Berney is relaunching Picturehouse, the company he founded in 2005 as a joint venture with HBO Films and New Line and which lasted through 2008, when it was closed by Warner Bros.

Berney has signed an exclusive, multiyear output deal with Netflix and recently acquired the Picturehouse trademark and logo from Warners. The company will be based in New York, with Berney serving as CEO and his wife Jeanne Berney serving as president.

The relaunched company’s first release will be Metallica Through the Never, starring Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and members of the rock band in the story of a young member of the band's crew. The film is written and directed by Nimrod Antal (Kontroll, Predators) and will hit theaters Aug. 9.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be back in business under the Picturehouse banner,” Berney said. “We worked very hard to build it into a brand known for acquiring exciting, challenging and entertaining films from the U.S. and around the world and helping them find their audiences.”

Of Picturehouse 2.0's first release, he added: "Nim and the band have made a film that really captures the spirit of Metallica and their millions of loyal fans. It's an entertaining genre film with a concert inside it, a fun ride featuring an exciting young actor, Dane DeHaan. It's a very cool project to reboot Picturehouse with." 

Picturehouse expects to acquire, market and theatrically distribute two or three independent films from the U.S. and around the world this year, increase its output to four or five films in 2014 and then six or seven films in subsequent years. Picturehouse films will play on Netflix exclusively in the U.S. shortly after their theatrical release.

Picturehouse also has secured a first-look relationship with Warner Bros. Pictures International for films to which it has international distribution rights.

Earlier in his career, as an executive with first IFC Films and then Newmarket Films, Berney handled the releases of such megahits as My Big Fat Greek Wedding and The Passion of the Christ as well as such critically applauded films as Christopher Nolan's Memento, Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien and Niki Caro's Whale Rider.

At Picturehouse, he acquired and released such features as Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, Olivier Dahan's La Vie en Rose, Sergei Bodrov's Mongol, Patricia Rozema's Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion and Seth Gordon's documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.

As CEO of Apparition, Berney presided over the release of Bright Star, Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day, The Young Victoria and The Runaways. Most recently, he co-founded and served as president of theatrical distribution of FilmDistrict, which has released Insidious, Soul Surfer, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and Drive.

Jeanne Berney most recently served as executive vp marketing at FilmDistrict. Before that, she was executive vp marketing and administration at Apparition. She also has served as director of public relations and marketing at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and before that ran the film and digital entertainment group at Rogers & Cowan. Earlier in her career, she held publicity and promotion positions at Rysher Entertainment, Savoy Pictures and Miramax Films.

"Bob and Jeanne are legendary tastemakers and innovators who were early partners with Netflix in bringing amazing movies like Pan's Labyrinth and La Vie en Rose to our service," Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said. "Netflix members love independent films, and the Berneys have indisputably great taste."

Addressing collaborating with them on the release of the new Metallica Through the Never, the band's drummer and founding member Lars Ulrich said: "Metallica's way of doing things is to jump into unexplored creative endeavors with no safety new whatsoever. Putting this movie together for the last couple of years has been a pretty wild ride, and we've definitely done our share of flying without a net! Bringing Bob and Jeanne and the new Picturehouse team in at this point provides us with a much-needed level of security for the distribution of the film. Their spirit of independence and desire to work outside the box is something we can relate to in every way, and this makes them both a welcome addition and a natural fit to the Metallica family."


Twitter: @gkilday