Ray takes reins at Kimmel Ent.


Five months after announcing that it was scaling back, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment has made the exec moves to match.

The financing and producing entity has removed president of production Bill Horberg from his post and upped Bingham Ray to president of creative affairs, now SKE's top creative spot. Ray was the company's senior marketing and distribution exec; Horberg has been given a first-look producing deal with the company.

The personnel moves come as part of what execs described as a shift in strategy toward thrillers, horror and broad comedy and away from the more prestige fare it has been known for since Horberg joined three years ago.

On Tuesday, the company announced its first film in that vein, the thriller "Sunflower" from writer Misha Green.

"This is a commercial enterprise, and we need to be making broader movies." SKE president Jim Tauber said. "As much as we like these art house and smart house movies, we can only make one or two of them. We can't afford to make a slate of them."

The company has made a number of critically well-received films during the past several years, including "United 93" and "Lars and the Real Girl," but few have broken out commercially. "United 93" was the biggest earner of the past few years, taking in $32 million in domestic boxoffice.

Meanwhile, Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut "Synecdoche, New York," a $20 million project that had been one of the big hopes of this year's Festival de Cannes, attracted few bidders on the Croisette and wound up selling to Sony Pictures Classics several months after the festival.

SKE announced in March that it would cut back the number of films per year from roughly five to three and would seek different financial terms; it also would no longer market its own movies.

Among the movies upcoming for SKE are the Jennifer Aniston drama "Management," which will play the Toronto International Film Festival, and Greg Mottola's coming-of-age dramedy "Adventureland" from Miramax. (partialdiff)