Sony sets Stage 6 for films

Distrib'n pattern on pic-by-pic basis

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group on Monday announced the launch of a new label, Stage 6 Films, to distribute 10-15 films annually with budgets of $10 million or less.

The banner plans to acquire and produce various films, including prequels and sequels like "Starship Troopers: Marauder," that have high audience appeal and feature well-known actors.

SPWAG senior executive vp and GM Adrian Alperovich, who heads the new venture, said Stage 6's uniqueness is how it distributes the films.

"The distribution pattern for each movie is not decided beforehand," Alperovich said. "Some will go theatrically, but it's not determined who will distribute and how wide. That is dependent on the commercial potential of each film."

Industry expert Schuyler Moore said the label "sounds like a brilliant, daring, original move that will be wildly successful."

Another industry expert, Andrew Hurwitz, said it appeared to be more an extension of the Sony home video division.

"I think it's part of the ongoing evolution of the studio," Hurwitz said. "They're trying to brand a business they've been doing for a long time."

Alperovich, however, emphasized that Stage 6 is not a direct-to-video label. It's for feature films with the potential to be distributed in various ways, including theatrical, TV, video or international release, he said.

"In our group, we have the flexibility and luxury of being able to work with partners outside the studio as well as inside," he said. "The Sony label will always have the first choice, but we can also work with third-party companies."

Joining Alperovich will be Peter Nelson and Nick Phillips, vps production at Screen Gems; SPWAG's Lara Thompson, senior vp acquisitions and production; and Scott Shooman, executive director of acquisitions and production. All will add overseeing productions of Stage 6 to their duties.

Among Stage 6's slate of films are "Conspiracy," starring Val Kilmer, Gary Cole and Jennifer Esposito and directed by Adam Marcus, and "Dark Country," starring Thomas Jane, who also is directing, and Lauren German.