Tom Ortenberg exits the Weinstein Co.

President of theatrical marketing will not be replaced

Tom Ortenberg, the Lionsgate veteran who brought an injection of outside blood to the Weinstein Co. when he came on as president of theatrical films earlier this year, has left the company nine months into his tenure.

Ortenberg will not be replaced. Instead, Harvey and Bob Weinstein will become even more active on the marketing and distribution fronts, while execs such as senior vp of distribution Laurent Ouaknine will take on an expanded role.

Industry tongues were wagging over the weekend about the motivations behind Ortenberg's departure. Ortenberg's exit comes at an unusual time for TWC: Miller Buckfire, the investment bank the film firm brought on to help streamline operations, recently recommended the company focus exclusively on releasing movies, a skill that sits squarely in Ortenberg's wheelhouse.

Ortenberg issued a statement saying he had asked to be released from his contract for "personal reasons."

For their part, TWC execs said that while they valued Ortenberg's experience, Harvey and Bob Weinstein were now heavily involved in the marketing and distribution of the films, which in turn made a specific position of theatrical president unnecessary. "I think what they're doing right now (in terms of marketing and distribution) is different from what they've done at any time recently," said the company's David Glasser. "They are literally in there 24-7."

Ortenberg helped found the Los Angeles office of Lionsgate and came with a long dossier of experience, having shepherded the releases of prestige titles like "Crash" and "Away From Her" and genre movies such as the pics in the "Saw" franchise. His arrival at TWC in January was regarded as reversing a trend that had seen a number of execs exit the company over the past few years.

Although his tenure was short, he did preside over the theatrical division as it released the breakout "Inglourious Basterds" this summer and as it acquired "Nowhere Boy," Sam Taylor Wood's England-based project about John Lennon's early years.

As a well-known industry figure, Ortenberg also provided another public face to the company. But Glasser noted that given the increased day-to-day involvement of the Weinsteins, "There is no better figurehead than Bob and Harvey at this point."

The exec's departure is the latest wave of contraction to hit the New York mini-major. Sources several days ago confirmed that the Weinstein Co. would reduce staff by about 35 over the next month, whittling down to between 70 and 80 employees. As part of that cutback, it plans to close its Hong Kong office run by Asian film vet Bey Logan, among other changes.

The company also recently restructured as much as $500 million in debt to free up cash for P&A as well as other purposes.

The Ortenberg news comes as the Weinstein Co. continues to enjoy the success of "Inglourious Basterds," which has earned nearly $230 million worldwide.

But it remains a critical period for the firm at the boxoffice. The coming months bring the release of a trio of important fall pictures: Rob Marshall's "Nine," Viggo Mortensen starrer "The Road" and Toronto pickup "A Single Man," all three of which are viewed as high-profile titles that nonetheless come with their own marketing risks