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Derval Whelan Named Bleecker Street’s New Head of Distribution

The veteran distribution executive comes to Bleecker Street after a 14-year stint at Searchlight

Veteran distribution executive Derval Whelan has joined Bleecker Street as its new president of distribution, the Bleecker Street film company announced Thursday.

Whelan replaces Jack Foley, who left his position as president of distribution last year. Foley had served at Bleecker Street since its launch in 2014.

Whelan comes to Bleecker Street following a 35-year career in the distribution field. She previously served as vice president of distribution for Searchlight for 14 years, working on the films “12 Years a Slave,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” The The Shape of Water,” “Birdman,” “127 Hours” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Prior to Searchlight, Whelan held positions at Sony Pictures Classics, Miramax and MK2USA.  She started her career at Orion Classics with the campaign on Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran.” She received her MA from the NYU Cinema Studies program.

“Her experience with commercial hits and arthouse fare are well proven and I couldn’t be more pleased to have Derval join our team,” Andrew Karpen, CEO of Bleecker Street, said in a statement. “We look forward to Derval leading the charge as theaters around the country begin to reopen and our audiences can enjoy seeing films on the big screen again.”

Bleecker Street’s upcoming films include the Sundance comedy “Together Together” with Ed Helms and Patti Harrison releasing on April 23, “The Dream Horse” starring Toni Collette and Damian Lewis (May 21) and “The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52” (July 9). Recent films include “The World to Come,” “Supernova,”  “The Assistant” and “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

Whelan is coming into the new post at a crucial time for theatrical distribution as many studios are moving to new release models including concurrent releases in theaters and on streaming services. It is expected that streaming debuts or concurrent debuts will remain part of the movie premiere model post-pandemic.