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MGM Re-Launches Orion Pictures to Amplify Underserved Voices

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

Alana Mayo (MGM)

MGM is re-launching its Orion Pictures as a mean to amplify underserved voices and has hired veteran executive Alana Mayo as president of the label.

The studio announced Thursday that Orion will concentrate exclusively on underrepresented voices and authentic storytelling in film with a focus on developing, producing and acquiring feature films that amplify underserved voices, both in front of and behind the camera.

Current Orion president John Hegeman will be stepping down along with his team in early October, after the release of “Bill and Ted Face the Music.” The announcement was made jointly by Michael De Luca, MGM’s Film Group Chairman and Pam Abdy, MGM’s Film Group President.

“We are at an exciting and critical tipping point in our industry. For years many filmmakers and creators who have been considered and treated as outsiders have nonetheless persisted in creating visionary films that drew audiences across the globe and defined culture,” Mayo said. “Many of these films and filmmakers inspired me to pursue storytelling as a career, and to work towards creating a more equitable environment for all creators.”

Mayo will oversee the label’s day-to-day operations, including development, acquisitions, physical and post production, while also working closely with the marketing and publicity team at MGM, and the studio’s distribution partners, on the release strategy and the social impact campaign activation for each film. MGM will handle global distribution, with United Artists Releasing marketing and distributing films under the Orion Pictures label in the U.S. as part of the studio’s joint theatrical distribution venture.

Mayo most recently served as head of production and development for Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society, overseeing “Just Mercy” and the upcoming “Without Remorse,” a film adaptation of the fantasy novel “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,”  an untitled original monster movie from Jordan Vogt-Roberts; and World War II action drama “The Liberators.”

De Luca and Abdy said, “We believe deeply in creating content that reflects our global communities and we are thrilled that Alana will be heading up the newly relaunched Orion Pictures label to elevate and empower the many voices whose stories deserve to be told. As a company dedicated to entertaining audiences across the world, MGM is committed to increasing access for all people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, individuals with disabilities and other historically marginalized groups as a moral and business imperative.”

Orion was launched in 1978 by Arthur Krim, Eric Pleskow and Robert S. Benjamin and released four Best Picture winners — “Amadeus,” “PLatoon,” “Dances With Wolves” and “The Silence of the Lambs” — during the next decade and a half. Orion has been owned by MGM since 1997.

Variety's Dave McNary contributed to this post.

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