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Saturday, January 21, 2006

`First Look Studios at 25'

Here's a set of stories I wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, about First Look Studios. They've been involved in movies like "The Secret of Roan Inish," "Titus," "Monster," "Antonia's Line," "The Prophecy," with Christopher Walken, and "Mrs. Dalloway."

It begins:

    Henry Winterstern and Ruth Vitale met in a fairly standard Los Angeles way: This past August, Vitale, a co-founder of Paramount Classics, stopped by a table at Ago restaurant in West Hollywood, where friends of hers happened to be having dinner with Winterstern, a relatively new arrival to Hollywood who was in the process of merging Capital Entertainment and First Look Media.

    Four months later, Winterstern recruited Vitale to head the theatrical division of the company of which he is CEO, newly rechristened First Look Studios -- one in a series of moves intended to reinvigorate the firm, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

    Winterstern isn't consciously modeling First Look after successful standalone mini-majors such as Miramax or Lionsgate, but he is clear about his intention to build a "360 degree" company, capable of handling in-house production, acquisition, home video distribution, TV and foreign sales and theatrical distribution.

    "We're focused on material and getting close to the filmmaker," Winterstern says. "In the early days of Hollywood, that's how this business was done, and I don't have a problem trying to reinvent the wheel."

(In the pic at right: Ruth Vitale, Andy Gruenberg, Henry Winterstern, William Lischak and Bill Bromiley.)