By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 8, 2011 at 6:00AM
As Cinedigm's Chris McGurk advocates a partnership rather than adversary relationship between distributors and exhibitors, by sharing in the back-end of movies that hit VOD in advance of the usual 90-day ancillary window, dominant theater chains AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment's fledgling distributor Open Road Films is testing the question of whether there's an inherent conflict in theaters owning their own distribution arm. They are calling Open Road "acquisition-based," and thus their first major release (which they insist is not a remake), Killer Elite, was financed by Omnilab Media (Oliver Stone's W) and produced through Omnilab’s Australian production arm, Ambience Entertainment. Inferno Entertainment handled worldwide sales.
Open Road, with Tom Ortenberg at the helm and ex-Weinstein Co. vet Liz Biber running publicity, will release Killer Elite in theaters on September 23. The action thriller, inspired by the true story told in Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ novel The Feather Men, stars action-reliable Jason Statham (who is on my stars-who-open-movies list) as a special ops agent lured out of retirement to rescue his mentor (Robert De Niro). That requires killing three canny assassins led by Clive Owen.
It will be tough to match the original 1975 Sam Peckinpah actioner based on Robert Rostand's Monkey in the Middle, starring Godfather's James Caan as a mercenary who is shot and crippled by his one-time partner Robert Duvall, and then seeks revenge. UPDATE: Is it technically a remake if it's based on a different telling of the same true story? The two plots do sound quite different.