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Starz Launches Overture Films

Starz Llc. has formed a new motion picture studio, Overture Films, which will produce, acquire and distribute eight to 12 full-length feature films a year.

Overture Films is headed by ceo Chris McGurk and coo Danny Rosett. McGurk and Rosett were key execs at Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc. prior to MGM's 2005 sale to a group of investors led by Sony Corp. Most recently, McGurk served as senior advisor, new ventures, to Starz Media.

McGurk served as vice chairman/coo at MGM from 1999-2005. Rosett held a variety of executive roles at MGM from 1994-2005, including president of United Artists, MGM's specialty film division. During McGurk and Rosett's tenure at MGM, the studio's slate included such successful films as HOTEL RWANDA, LEGALLY BLONDE, BARBERSHOP, DIE ANOTHER DAY, HANNIBAL, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR and the Academy Award winners BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE and CAPOTE, which UA produced.

McGurk said, "Unburdened by the infrastructure and red tape of big studios, Overture Films will provide a unique opportunity for creative talent to return to the fundamentals of filmmaking: original stories, gifted actors and innovative directors.

"At our studio the creative talent will be central not just in making the films but in helping to develop and execute the marketing and promotional campaigns, including the Internet. Overture Films will embrace and empower talent as true partners in the entire process of making and distributing films."

McGurk added that domestic and international theatrical distribution would also be handled by Overture. The target is for about 60% of the films to be original productions, with the other 40 percent acquired. The studio will be based in Los Angeles, and releases will begin in mid-2007.

McGurk will report to Robert B. Clasen, chairman/ceo of Starz Llc.

Clasen said, "Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett are superb studio executives with great track records who will operate Overture Films with a favorable business model and creative autonomy. Overture is the keystone for the new structure at Starz. It complements the home video, television production, animated film, international sales and other units that were combined with the Starz premium channel business in August when Liberty Media purchased IDT Ent. Starz is now a fully integrated media company with the ability to produce any kind of programming and distribute that programming across all platforms."

Clasen said the Overture Films slate would further strengthen the lineup of movies from other studio partners on the Starz premium channels and the Vongo Internet subscription movie download service. Overture will also provide a new business opportunity for Starz Home Ent., which will distribute the films to the home entertainment market.

Rosett, who will report to McGurk, noted that the financial success of movies depends on having guaranteed premium television and home entertainment distribution in place. "Overture Films from the start has a multi-year output deal with Starz Ent. -- including the Starz premium channels and Vongo -- and a distribution agreement with Starz Home Ent.

"We plan to release a broad and balanced spectrum of films that will target specific audiences, avoiding the 'tent-pole' focus that drives the major studios. Within the eight-12 films we release each year will be dramas, socially minded projects, thrillers, comedies, horror films and urban projects. Over the next few months, we will build the team that will be responsible for producing and distributing these films. We expect to make further announcements about our team, alliances with film makers and international distribution plans in the coming months."

Overture Films is a wholly owned subsidiary of Starz Llc., which is a unit of Liberty Media Corp. and also operates the Starz Ent. premium television business and the Starz Media production and distribution company.

Starz Llc. (www.starz.com) is a holding company that operates Starz Media and Starz Ent. Starz Llc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp. that is attributed to Liberty Capital Group.

Starz Ent. (www.starz.com) is a premium movie service provider operating in the U.S. It offers 16 movie channels including the flagship Starz and Encore brands with approximately 14.9 million and 26.6 million subscribers, respectively. Starz Ent. airs more than 1,000 movies per month across its pay TV channels and offers advanced services including Starz HDTV, Starz On Demand and Vongo. Starz Ent. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp. that is attributed to Liberty Capital Group.

Starz Media is a programming production and distribution company operating worldwide. It includes the Film Roman, Anchor Bay Ent. and Manga Ent. brands. Its units create animated and live-action programming, including theatrical films, and programming created under contract for other media companies. It distributes that programming, and programming acquired from outside producers, through home entertainment retailers, theaters, broadcasters, ad supported and premium television channels, and Internet and wireless video distributors in the U.S. and internationally. Starz Media is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp. that is attributed to Liberty Capital Group.

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