EXCLUSIVE: In a shock move, Film4 topper David Kosse is leaving the Brit production banner and joining U.S. company STX Entertainment. STX confirmed that one, Kosse was joining the company to head STX International, and two, this was not an April Fools joke. The new division will be dedicated to identifying and executing on global opportunities for development, production and distribution of STX’s content.
STX Motion Picture Group chairman Adam Fogelson and Kosse had previously worked together at Universal. As part of the new division, STX will be setting up its own distribution operations in the UK, where Kosse and STX International will be based.
“I am ecstatic to be working with David again,” said Fogelson. “David and I enjoyed a long working history together at our previous company and I’ve experienced first-hand his valuable knowledge of both the international landscape and emerging marketing and distribution platforms. His deep talent relationships and brilliant eye for globally commercial content will be invaluable as we continue to make films for worldwide audiences.”
“The way STX is approaching the international piece is refreshing and unlike anything else I’ve seen in the industry,” added Kosse. “I’m very excited about getting in on the ground floor and helping drive growth at what really is the first global media company that was truly built for the current entertainment landscape. I’ve had the pleasure of working with STX’s leadership team previously and look forward to joining them as they innovate and change the industry.”
Kosse had been in the Film4 top job for less than two years. During that time, the company has enjoyed its most successful awards season, with a record 15 Oscar nominations this year for Carol, Room, Ex Machina, 45 Years, Youth and Amy. Deadline understands Kosse was consulting for a number of U.S.-based companies while with Film4 including STX and Media Rights Capital.
In February, the company — which is the film division of UK broadcaster Channel 4 — announced a record increase in its funding to £25 million ($36 million) for 2016 as well as a deal with Fox Searchlight to co-finance Martin McDonagh’s new film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Separately, Film4 inked a four-picture deal with the UK’s Entertainment Film Distributors and FP Films to co-develop, finance and produce a slate of four new comedy features.
Having joined Film4 in August 2014 following a successful 10-year stint at Universal, Kosse has succeeded in keeping Film4’s traditional artistic edge while also steering the company into higher profile projects and partnerships.
The banner year for Film4 came at a time of uncertainty over the long-term fate of its parent company Channel 4 and its possible privatization. The government is currently looking at several options, including privatizing Channel 4 fully or keeping the hybrid structure as is with the channel a state-owned broadcaster but funded almost entirely by advertising. Another model on the table is transforming the broadcaster into a mutually owned not-for-profit channel. Channel 4 has long been a champion of diverse, edgy programming, and any move to privatize would lead to fears of commercialization and homogenization.
“David Kosse made David Abraham aware of his decision to leave Film4 several months ago and we will be announcing his successor imminently. David leaves on good terms with the organisation and will work on the transition with his successor at Film4 on a consultancy basis until October,” read a Channel 4 statement.
The move to STX gives that company one of the most respected international films execs in the business. In his new role, Kosse will oversee international strategy for the marketing and direct theatrical and multi-platform distribution of STX films worldwide. Initial plans call for launching direct distribution in the UK and Ireland in 2017, with expansion into additional key territories to be announced in due course. International sales president John Friedberg will report to Kosse.
“The inauguration of STX International underscores our commitment to managing the content lifecycle of our projects globally to ensure we maximize each opportunity for success. There is no better executive to lead this new initiative than David, an incomparable industry heavyweight – and we’re extremely excited to welcome him to the team,” said STX Entertainment president Sophie Watts.
STX International will be based in the company’s new London office, which will serve as headquarters for international production, marketing and distribution. Kosse will formally join STX in June. During the interim he will continue as a consultant for STX on the campaigns and rollout of certain upcoming films.
He will continue to consult Film4 through November and oversee the transition to his successor.