EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Lionsgate’s well liked and highly respected Senior Executive Vice President of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, Rob McEntegart, will be leaving that studio in the next few weeks. “His departure follows a planned transition period and is very amicable,” an insider just told me. McEntegart was responsible for overseeing the business side of Lionsgate feature films, including the recent blockbuster The Hunger Games, in terms of rights and talent deals. He also had operational responsibilities, some of which will now be handled by longtime Lionsgate executive Steve Beeks, who was recently appointed President of the Motion Picture Group.

McEntegart is going out on his own and launching First Reel Media, a firm which will partner with filmmaker and, production companies and other content creators to help with the business side of development, production, financing and distribution on feature projects and other content. First Reel Media’s first initiative will be the formation of a not-for-profit company through which top talent and filmmakers can develop and fund commercial projects involving progressive themes

McEntegart came to Lionsgate in 2007 when the studio acquired Joe Drake’s company Mandate Pictures. His departure now follows Drake, who was Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group President until its recent acquisition of Summit Pictures. McEntegart had been working with Drake since the founding of Mandate where he was EVP of Business Affairs. Among his negotiations there was a multi-picture deal for Mandate with Sony, plus the Fox Searchlight deal for Mandate’s hit Juno. Prior to Mandate, McEntegart served as EVP of Business Affairs at Nigel Sinclair’s Intermedia Films from 1997 to 2002.