EXCLUSIVE: Bingham Ray will leave his post as president of creative affairs of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. He’ll exit over the next few weeks, and an announcement is expected right after the company holds a Monday night premiere of Death at a Funeral, the remake that Screen Gems opens April 16.
Ray, the co-founder of October Films and former United Artists president, joined Kimmel three years ago as president of distribution. Ray took the production post after Kimmel downsized his operation and president of production Bill Horberg exited to become a producer. Though Ray’s strength is in marketing and distribution, he’ll at least for now be taking a path similar to Horberg. Ray will take producing roles on two pictures he was intimately involved in as an executive: Old Timers, a comedy about two retired hitman that Noah Haidle wrote and Jon Amiel will direct, and the Misha Green-scripted thriller Sunflower. Many felt that Ray would segue out at some point after the rag trade billionaire Kimmel cut his investment in indie films in early 2008, at a time when the bottom was falling out of the specialty film business. Kimmel had the dubious distinction of making a slew of daring and often terrific arthouse films, watching one after another tank at the box office. Many of those that crashed and burned were done through the rent a system distribution deal Kimmel had at MGM. Among the films Kimmel financed were the original Death at a Funeral, United 93, The Kite Runner, Synecdoche, New York, Breach, Charlie Bartlett, Adventureland and Lars and the Real Girl. Interestingly, the new version of Death at a Funeral is expected to do well with Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan starring, and Kimmel is ramping up several other pictures besides the two that Ray will be producing. It is unclear if or how CEO Kimmel will replace Ray. Jim Tauber remains president of the label.