EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is staffing up. The indie film distribution company launched by theater chains AMC and Regal with distribution veteran Tom Ortenberg in charge is in discussions with Jason Cassidy to become Open Road’s head of marketing, with Liz Biber in talks to head publicity. Ortenberg should have his team set within the next week or two, and most certainly will be up and running before Cannes.
Cassidy was executive vice president of worldwide marketing at Miramax Films under Daniel Battsek when Disney shuttered that independent shingle. He started at Miramax in 1999. Biber had also worked at Dimension Films and before that at Columbia Pictures. Most recently, she has been overseeing the campaign for the Robert Redford-directed The Conspirator for The American Film Company and Roadside Attractions.
Ortenberg launched Open Road earlier this month, and said he plans to acquire and distribute films that can play in wide release on about 2,000 screens. Ortenberg expects to release the first three films by the fall, and 8 to 10 films per year when the company is up and running. Part of the plan is for those pictures to play on screens owned by AMC and Regal, which control between 5,000 and 6,000 screens each in the United States and control about 20% of total locations in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. They are responsible for just shy of 40% of weekly theatrical business. First order of business for Ortenberg is to set his team, which will include an acquisitions executive and several other posts.