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MGM reboots Orion Pictures brand as stand-alone film distributor

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is reviving Orion Pictures, the movie label best known for releasing “The Terminator” and “Silence of the Lambs,” as a standalone distributor.

John Hegeman, who previously served as president of Blumhouse’s experimental BH Tilt label, will serve as president of the label, the Los Angeles studio said Wednesday.

Hegeman will be responsible for marketing and distributing four to six “modestly budgeted” films a year, including wide and limited releases, the company said in a statement. He takes the helm this week, reporting to Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM's motion picture group.

Executives were not made available for interviews.

Orion was founded in 1978 and became known as a home for innovative filmmakers, releasing movies including “Robocop,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “Hoosiers,” but the brand has had a tumultuous past.

The company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy under a heavy debt load after a string of flops in 1991, the same year its film “Dances With Wolves” won the Oscar for best picture. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in 1992 and struggled to regain its footing.

MGM bought Orion in 1997, acquiring its robust library of films.

In 2013, the Orion brand was rebooted by MGM for television shows. The following year, the company revived the Orion Pictures name for films, co-distributing movies such as 2017’s “The Belko Experiment” and “Wish Upon.”

Its first release as a stand-alone distributor will be Emmy winner Michael Sucsy’s young-adult romance “Every Day,” set for a theatrical debut in February.

Hegeman, who spent more than a decade at Orion in his early career, has previously held positions at New Regency and Lionsgate. He led campaigns for BH Tilt movies such as “The Green Inferno" and “The Darkness.”

Hegeman “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,” Glickman said in a statement.

MGM emerged from its own Chapter 11 proceedings in 2010. Though its film slate has produced mixed results, the studio, led by Chief Executive Gary Barber, has built a formidable television business, scoring Emmy nominations for Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and FX's “Fargo.”

Mark Burnett, the executive producer of “Shark Tank” and “The Voice,” has run the TV division since 2016.

In July, MGM bought production company Evolution Media, known for reality programs such as “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and “Vanderpump Rules.”

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

@rfaughnder

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