MPI Media Group Launches Theatrical Distribution Division

After producing and releasing genre movies through its Dark Sky Films imprint, the company plans to release six to eight films per year on the big screen.

Chicago-based MPI Media Group is launching a new theatrical distribution division, MPI Pictures, to handle six to eight theatrical releases per year – focusing on foreign-language films, indies and high-end genre fare.

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Greg Newman, executive vice president of MPI Media Group, will oversee the new division. Marie Therese Guirgis, who has been consulting with MPI for more than five years, has come aboard as head of theatrical distribution. Additionally, Emily Woodburne and marketing executive Dan Goldberg have been hired to help oversee the initial slate.

“The mission is to buy films and release films theatrically that appeal to at least a broad niche demographically,” Guirgis said.

MPI Pictures is kicking off with an initial slate of seven films, which it has been assembling since last fall, and Newman and Guirgis will be heading to the upcoming Cannes Film Market to scout additional titles.

While MPI is primarily a home entertainment company, it has also begun producing and releasing genre movies, through its Dark Sky Films, such as Ti West‘s horror tale The Innkeepers, released through Magnolia, and Jim Mickle’s Stake Land, released by IFC. By creating its own distribution company, it will be able to release its own future productions itself.

MPI’s initial slate ranges from Petra Eopperlein and Michael Tucker’s mixed martial arts documentary Fightville, which received a limited theatrical release April 20, since it is primarily intended for the VOD and digital markets, to the French feature Little White Lies, directed by Guillame Canet, which is scheduled to open Aug. 24 as a traditional platform New York/Los Angeles release before expanding to the top 20 markets or more.

The slate also includes: A Bag of Hammers, starring Jason Ritter and Rebecca Hall and directed by Brian Crano, May 11; Americano, directed by Mathieu Demy and starring Demy and Salma Hayek, June 15; The Big Picture, directed by Eric Lartigau and starring Romain Durais and Catherine Deneuve, October; Yelling to the Sky, directed by Victoria Mahoney and starring Zoe Kravitz and Jason Clark, January, 2013; and The Heineken Kidnapping, directed by Maarten Treurniet and starring Rutger Hauer, February, 2012.

“The audience for commercial foreign language and independent films remains a flourishing niche in the marketplace,” Newman said of the decision to set up MPI Pictures. "With the launch of our theatrical division we have the ability not only to release completed feature films that we acquire but also to release our own original productions.”