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Annapurna and MGM expand joint venture, United Artists Releasing

Annapurna and MGM expand joint venture, United Artists Releasing
Actor Michael B. Jordan in a scene from "Creed II," one of the films distributed by the joint venture between MGM and Annapurna. (Barry Wetcher/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures said Tuesday that they are expanding their partnership to distribute more movies through a joint venture called United Artists Releasing.

The joint venture, launched in 2017, has distributed eight films, including the dramas “Creed II,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Vice,” a film about former Vice President Dick Cheney. Under the expansion, the venture will aim to release 10 to 14 movies each year, including the new James Bond franchise film that is set for release in 2020.

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United Artists Releasing will distribute films in the United States from MGM and Annapurna, as well as work with third-party filmmakers. MGM’s Orion Pictures label will also distribute its films through United Artists Releasing starting in April.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“With the major corporations continuing to consolidate, I believe it is important to have an independent option to provide a sanctuary where we can bring forth transparency, dedication and fair treatment for all the films we have and will continue to love and service,” Megan Ellison, chief executive of Annapurna, said in a statement.

Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM’s worldwide motion picture group, said the joint venture taking on the United Artists name was a “natural fit,” adding that it “was founded around the same principle as its namesake: to help filmmakers maintain financial and artistic control over the marketing and distribution of their diverse slate of films.”

United Artists Releasing will be led by president of marketing David Kaminow, president of distribution Erik Lomis and releasing chief operating officer Pam Kunath. Also joining the joint venture are members of Annapurna’s theatrical releasing team and the theatrical distribution team from Orion Pictures. Based in West Hollywood, United Artists Releasing has about 80 employees.

Annapurna Pictures has received critical acclaim for its recent films, “Vice” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” with actor Christian Bale and actress Regina King winning Golden Globes for their performances in those movies.

The boost comes after the publication last year of critical stories about the company, following a lack of commercial success for films it backed, including “Detroit.” Last year, Annapurna pulled out of distributing and serving as a financier for a movie about former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes as the company refocused its film division.

The company has since restructured and diversified into different areas besides film, including gaming and television, according to a person familiar with the business.

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