Toronto: Former Focus Co-CEO Andrew Karpen Launches New Distribution Company

Courtesy of NBCUniversal

UPDATED: Billionaire Manoj Bhargava, founder of 5-hour Energy, is financing the venture

Returning to the fold, former Focus Features co-CEO Andrew Karpen is forming a new U.S. indie distribution company, Bleecker Street. One of the first movies he'll release is Jay Roach's upcoming drama Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston as the legendary blacklisted writer.

Manoj Bhargava, founder of 5-hour Energy, maker of the popular energy drink, is backing Bleecker Street and was advised by WME Global on the deal.  Bhargava, whose worth is estimated at north of $4 billion, moved from India to the U.S. when he was 14.

The widely respected Karpen will serve as CEO of Bleecker Street, and will be aggressively scouting for films at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival. The New York-based company intends to release three to five films in 2015 before expanding its slate.

“I’m looking forward to bringing the work of great filmmakers into the marketplace and I couldn’t be more excited to be launching this new company in New York City,” said Karpen in statement. “Bleecker Street will be well positioned to distribute films on a platform or national basis, whatever best suits each title.”

Bleecker Street has already struck a key deal with Shivani Rawat’s ShivHans Pictures. Karpen's outfit will handle U.S. distribution for all current and future ShivHans films, including Trumbo; Danny Collins, directed by Dan Fogelman and starring Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale and Christopher Plummer; and Captain Fantastic, directed by Matt Ross and starring Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, Missi Pyle and Steve Zahn.

“Based on Andrew’s previous success in distributing films, I look forward to working with him in handling our upcoming slate through his new venture," said Rawat.

Karpen announced he was leaving Focus late last year after Peter Schlessel took over as CEO upon the exit of longtime CEO James Schamus. Karpen joined Focus COO in 2002 before being promoted president in 2006 and co-CEO in 2012.

He oversaw the release high-profile titles including Dallas Buyers Club, Beginners, The Place Beyond the Pines, Moonrise Kingdom, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Kids Are All Right.