Lionsgate taps Curt Marvis

Newly created position to oversee digital distribution for all divisions

Lionsgate has hired longtime CinemaNow CEO Curt Marvis as president of digital media, a newly created position at the studio.

Marvis will oversee digital distribution at all Lionsgate divisions including home entertainment, television, film and music and the company's stakes in online video hub, multiplatform brand FearNet and the premium cable venture recently announced with Viacom, MGM and Paramount.

Marvis, who co-founded CinemaNow nine years ago, will remain chairman of the online movie download service. He is expected to name his replacement shortly.

Lionsgate did not have to look far for a top digital exec; the company has been a lead investor in CinemaNow since its start in 1999. Lionsgate co-chairman/CEO Jon Feltheimer and vice chairman Michael Burns, who serve on CinemaNow's board, asked that he come aboard as the need for a dedicated executive in the sector became apparent.

"There was an opportunity too good to be true for me to come aboard and help Lionsgate exploit their businesses in the world of digital," said Marvis, who will report to Feltheimer and Steve Beeks, president and COO of Lionsgate.

Other investors in CinemaNow include Echostar, Microsoft and venture capital firm Menlo Ventures, which is the largest stakeholder.

Marvis will lead exploitation efforts on Internet, mobile and VOD for Lionsgate's library of 12,000 titles, including Showtime series "Weeds" and Oscar-winning film "Crash."

While Lionsgate had no single exec overseeing digital, it had been an active player in the space. Digital distribution deals were in place with leading outposts ranging from Microsoft's XBox Live Marketplace to Apple's iTunes, which recently began accepting Lionsgate film DVDs embedded with files that could be played on iTunes.

As long as CinemaNow has been active online, it has been a slow-growth story for its investors. While maintaining a wide range of licensing deals with content companies, consumer uptake has never quite boomed. However, the service has evolved significantly over the years, not only moving from strictly rentals to purchases, but embracing a wide range of devices where content could be downloaded.

Before launching CinemaNow, Marvis was president of game developer 7th Level. He had previously been active in the music video and CD-ROM industries.