Co-founder Chris Ball exits Newmarket Films

Will form new distribution company Wrekin Hill

Chris Ball is leaving Newmarket Films, which he co-founded in 1994, to form a new distribution company Wrekin Hill.

In November, Exclusive Media Group acquired Newmarket, which has produced such movies as "Memento" and released titles like "The Passion of the Christ," and Ball took on the added title of co-chairman of Exclusive.

Although his new company will continue to do business with Exclusive, Ball said in an announcement, issued jointed with Exclusive CEO and co-chairman Nigel Sinclair, that "forming Wrekin Hill will give me and my partners the flexibility to work on a wide variety of films and craft distribution plans that are unique and appropriately scaled for each film we acquire."

Ball's Newmarket colleagues Rene Cogan, COO-chief financial officer, and John Crye, president of production and acquisitions, will join him at Wrekin Hill.

Besides releasing films under the Wrekin Hill label, the new company will also license the Newmarket Films label for use on a non-exclusive basis.

Newmarket and Wrekin Hill will jointly release select upcoming titles from Exclusive, including Peter Weir's "The Way Back," starring Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong and Colin Farrell; the Spitfire Pictures-produced Billy Joel rock documentary "The Last Play at Shea"; and the Newmarket Sundance acquisition "Hesher," starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson.

Additional co-ventures with Exclusive are in the works.

Wrekin Hill said it plans to make additional acquisitions and that it will announce a a home entertainment distribution partnership shortly.

Exclusive, which took over Newmarket so that it would have a U.S. distribution channel, said that it is not abandoning distribution but instead intends to build up its U.S. theatrical releasing activities under the Newmarket label, and will name a new team of distribution and marketing executives.

Sinclair and Andy Mayson, Exclusive Group CFO and former COO of Icon Distribution U.K., will oversee Newmarket, which will continue to acquire films while also handling the Exclusive Group's in-house productions -- from its Exclusive, Hammer and Spitfire labels -- where appropriate.

Exclusive will also continue to manage the Newmarket library of approximately 250 pictures.

Sinclair said, "We at Exclusive are very excited to be able to continue our great relationship with Chris Ball, Rene Cogan and John Crye, and we look forward to working with Wrekin Hill in the upcoming years."