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MGM is re-launching Orion Pictures

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MGM is re-launching Orion Pictures as a new, standalone US theatrical marketing and distribution company.

MGM chairman and CEO Gary Barber made the announcement on the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival. Veteran executive John Hegeman has been hired in the newly-created role of president of Orion Pictures. He will report to Jonathan Glickman, MGM’s President of the Motion Picture Group, beginning next week.

“Orion is one of MGM’s legacy brands that has released crowd-pleasing hits like ‘The Terminator,’ ‘Robocop,’ ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ and ‘Hoosiers,’ and such critically acclaimed films as ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Dances With Wolves,’” Barber said. “We couldn’t think of a better time to revitalize this nostalgic brand and return to U.S. theatrical distribution utilizing this label, with John leading the marketing and distribution efforts.”

“After working together, we saw first-hand John’s ingenuity in creating disruptive marketing campaigns with limited budgets. He is the ideal executive to lead Orion as he has proven that he can deftly craft strategies for releases, spanning all genres, to reach targeted audiences without the burden of high-cost traditional advertising,” added Glickman.

The first film set to be released under the new label will be Michael Sucsy’s YA romance Every Day, starring Angourie Rice, Maria Bello and Debby Ryan. The film is due out on 2nd February 2018. “Every Day” is based on the best-selling novel of the same name and tells the story of a 16-year-old girl who falls in love with a spirit named A.

“Orion Pictures was founded as a home for innovative filmmakers with unique voices and stories to tell,” said Hegeman. “The new Orion Pictures will embrace that same principle and continue to release commercial entertainment that does not conform to any specific genre, platform or scope. I am excited to work together with Gary and Jon and for what lies ahead. ”

During its original life, Orion achieved a comparatively high reputation for Hollywood quality. Woody Allen, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme, Oliver Stone, and several other prominent directors worked with Orion during its most successful years from 1978 to 1992. Of the films distributed by Orion, four won Academy Awards for Best Picture: Amadeus (1984), Platoon (1986), Dances with Wolves (1990), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Two other Orion films, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Mississippi Burning (1988), were nominated for that same category.

In 2013, MGM revived the Orion Television brand (after its original TV unit was shut down during its bankruptcy era) as Orion TV Productions with a new syndicated series, Paternity Court.

The Orion Pictures name, also being called Orion Releasing, was extended in fourth quarter 2014 for smaller multi-platform video on demand and limited theatrical distribution. Its name was first seen again on September 10, 2014 in front of the trailer for The Town That Dreaded Sundown that was released in October. The label’s first releases was the Brazilian film Vestido pra Casar.

Hegeman has been heading Blumhouse Productions’ Blumhouse Tilt as president. He oversaw the wide release of the Orion Pictures’ production of James Gunn’s horror thriller The Belko Experiment, which grossed $10 million domestically following its March release. Hegeman has also overseen marketing for BH Tilt releases including Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno, The Darkness, and Lowriders in conjunction with Telemundo.

Under the new Orion Pictures label, Hegeman will build out a theatrical distribution, marketing and digital team and will be responsible for the marketing and distribution of four to six modestly budgeted films a year.

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