Toronto: Relativity Launching Specialty Division (Exclusive)

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Robbie Brenner

Production president Robbie Brenner will head the unit; veteran specialty acquisitions executive Matt Brodlie is brought in to co-run the new venture

Relativity Media is launching a specialty division, hoping to move in to the prestige film market and become a more prominent awards season contender.

A source with knowledge of the studio's plans says Relativity production president Robbie Brenner will head up the new division dubbed R2 (R squared), with an aim to build on her success producing last year's Oscar best picture nominee Dallas Buyers Club. That film wasn't released by Relativity because its development pre-dated her arrival at Relativity. Instead, it was released by Focus Features.

Brenner also will remain in her post as president of production, overseeing the main studio's bigger-budget films.

"The studio sees an opportunity to work with story-driven films that would benefit from a platform release, especially with the reduction of several specialty labels over the years," the source says.

Over the past decade, several of the major studios have shuttered or reconfigured their specialty divisions, leaving only Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics in the space, though new ventures have popped up in the void, such as Andrew Karpen's Bleecker Street.

Relativity ramped up its acquisitions team recently by hiring veteran specialty acquisitions executive Matt Brodlie, who will lead the new unit under Brenner. Assisting Brodlie will be Cube Vision's Matt Alvarez, who likewise recently joined Relativity to run a new multicultural division.

The company's acquisitions make up 25 percent to 40 percent of its slate, although many of those titles are more commercially minded, such as The Woman in Black 2 and Halle Berry action movie Kidnap, both of which the company picked up heading into Toronto.

R2 was already in the midst of closing deals for several specialty titles before the beginning of Toronto, where Brodlie will look for additional product.

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