EXCLUSIVE: Tom Ortenberg is leaving Open Road Films, the indie distribution company which steered Spotlight to a Best Picture Oscar win in 2016. The founding CEO of the indie distribution and marketing company formed in 2011 by theater chains AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group, Ortenberg will remain on the premises through year’s end to help in the management transition and to ready the next slate of films that include the Johnny Depp-Forest Whitaker-starrer Labyrinth, the Bella Thorne-Patrick Schwarzenegger-starrer Midnight Sun, and the Raja Gosnall-directed Show Dogs.
The exit is an amicable one, I’m told. Ortenberg had signed a long term extension as part of the recent acquisition of Open Road by Tang Media Partners, which placed it under the Global Road Entertainment banner. That contract came with an opt-out clause and Ortenberg chose to exercise it. He’ll head off and likely form a new company as a third act. He is the rare exec to have been on the ground floor of two indie companies that won Best Picture Oscars: he started the indie distribution operation at Lionsgate, which won with the Paul Haggis-directed Crash, and then Open Road, which won for Spotlight.
Ortenberg signed his extension when TMP bought Open Road from the theater chains and paired it with IM Global, the global sales company built by Stuart Ford, who exited earlier this year. Former Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chairman Rob Friedman was hired to run a company that now encompasses Open Road Films, IM Global and IM Global Television. Friedman and Ortenberg are longtime friends and got along fine. Ortenberg just chose to seek a new challenge.
“I could not be more proud of the company that I built along with our partners at AMC and Regal and the outstanding team that has led Open Road to some truly remarkable accomplishments,” Ortenberg said in a statement after confirming his exit to Deadline. “As I depart, I know that the company is in great hands with Rob Friedman and I am certain that the future will be bright for him and the entire organization.”
Said Friedman: “Tom has been an essential part of Open Road’s growth and success over the years. His leadership and legacy has created a foundation that will allow Global Road to evolve into a preeminent global content studio. We are appreciative of all of his efforts and his support as he transitions out of the company.”