2ND UPDATE: Sources in NYC financial circles first told me this morning that Tom Ortenberg, president of theatrical films for Lionsgate Entertainment, is leaving the company. He’d been Lionsgate’s first employee in Los Angeles, opening an office in Santa Monica in 1996 staffed only by himself and a part-time assistant. I’m told that Lionsgate’s Joe Drake gave Ortenberg a 6-month test period to see if he wanted him as part of the team. Since that time Ortenberg has been shopping himself. In early December, Ortenberg was told his contract would not be extended.  Drake has no plans to replace him. Now Ortenberg has landed at The Weinstein Co as president of theatrical films. I hear his salary at TWC is less than what he was making at Lionsgate. Based in LA, he’ll take charge of theatrical, marketing, distribution, the whole gamut, and report directly to Harvey and Bob. This was going to be announced at the end of the week, but my tipsters foiled those plans (again).

2ND UPDATE: Now, TWC weighs in with the announcement:

NEW YORK, NY (January 26, 2009) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced that Tom Ortenberg has joined the company as president of theatrical films. In this newly created position, Ortenberg will be involved in all aspects of domestic theatrical releases, including acquisitions, distribution, marketing and publicity of theatrical motion picture product released by both the TWC and Dimension banners. The announcement was made today by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairmen of TWC.

Most recently the president of theatrical films for Lionsgate Entertainment, where he worked for over a dozen years, Ortenberg will begin his new position next week in TWC’s Los Angeles office, reporting to Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

“Tom’s arrival at the company is a major coup for us,” said Bob and Harvey Weinstein. “His instincts, wide knowledge of all parts of the industry and impeccable track record is unbelievably good fortune for us as we prepare to release some of the biggest and most exciting films we’ve made, including Inglourious Basterds and Nine. He has the rare combination of being a truly multi-talented executive with creativity, business acumen, strong talent relationships and was a pioneering force for our friends at Lionsgate with his proven leadership skills. He’s the consummate professional, who’s bringing his years of experience to the company, and we are confident that his expertise will continue to further the success of The Weinstein Company and strengthen our existing executive pool.”

“I am honored to join Bob and Harvey who are essentially the creators of the modern independent film business,” said Ortenberg. “I look forward to working with the very talented executive team and doing my part in helping the company in their continued growth and success.”