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Six Questions: Anchor Bay Entertainment President Bill Clark

14 Feb, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

Bill Clark

Anchor Bay Entertainment president Bill Clark’s career in the entertainment industry has spanned more than 25 years and has included film, TV, video, music, live theater and new media.

Before joining Anchor Bay in 2006 — first as EVP and GM before being promoted to president of what was then Starz Home Entertainment in mid-2007 — Clark served as COO and CFO of Ventura Entertainment Enterprises. He’s been the worldwide COO of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, COO of Spelling Entertainment, and COO and CFO of Priority Records, and has held SVP positions for EMI Music and The Walt Disney Studios.

Clark took time to chat with Home Media Magazine about Anchor Bay’s DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital business.

HM: What does the 25% stake purchase in Starz by The Weinstein Co. mean for Anchor Bay Entertainment, and what does Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s studio bring to the table?

Clark: The deal with The Weinstein Co. is a significant and strategic partnership for Anchor Bay Entertainment. We will be releasing up to 20 quality TWC theatrical new releases each year — in fact, award-winning releases which feature exceptional talent and will do extremely well at retail. Our first title, The King’s Speech, is already surpassing expectations and has garnered a phenomenal 12 Academy Award nominations. Our second release, Blue Valentine, is surpassing expectations as well. Our third release, Company Men, is on deck and receiving very positive reaction at retail. We are thrilled and honored to be in this new partnership and to have the opportunity to be in business with Bob and Harvey — truly incredible and iconic filmmakers. There will also be some great franchise films coming as well, including sequels to the successful “Scream,” “Spy Kids” and “Scary Movie” franchises. Apollo 18 is also on the Anchor Bay slate. ABE is extremely committed to independent film, and our alignment with Bob and Harvey will yield significant positive impact for the independent film arena as a whole, as well as for ABE and TWC.

HM: What are the retail implications of the purchase for ABE titles, if any?

Clark: The equity stake that the Weinsteins have taken in Starz Media will not affect Anchor Bay Entertainment and our releases at all. In fact, our Anchor Bay Films unit is aggressively picking up independent films and will continue to do so. Since its creation just over two years ago, we’ve purchased more than 50 titles. In fact, we just picked up one of the most talked-about titles at Sundance, Son of No One, starring Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Channing Tatum and Ray Liotta. We also announced two other acquisitions at Sundance this year — Tanner Hall, featuring Rooney Mara, in her debut role before being cast in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Big Bang, as well as Antonio Banderas — with more to be announced. Anchor Bay Films is a key part of our strategy, and we will continue to be in the market aggressively acquiring titles. The two companies, ABF and TWC, are complementary to each other and in conjunction with our original programs from Starz — such as “Camelot” and “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” both of which are scheduled for release later this year — Anchor Bay will bring to the market one of the most compelling product portfolios in the industry to both retail customers and consumers.

HM: What’s your feeling about the decline of DVD sellthrough and the resurgence of rental, and the implications not only for ABE, but also for the entire home entertainment industry?

Clark: There are obviously many unique factors in the market right now — a recession, low consumer confidence levels, format conversion from SD to BD and the evolution of new digital platforms. Additionally, on a transaction basis, rental has always dominated the U.S. marketplace while sellthrough has dominated on a spending basis. We see the marketplace starting to stabilize. In terms of sellthrough, ABE continues to grow year-on-year by double digits for all key metrics, including revenue and POS. We are quite bullish about the prospects for ABE and the product we are bringing to market, along with some very unique and ground-breaking release strategies, so stay tuned.

HM: Where does Anchor Bay see Blu-ray headed in 2011, and are there any chances we’ll see ABE join the 3D Blu-ray game this year?

Clark: Blu-ray sales continue to rise, and we believe that 2011 will be no different. The format is clearly well down the path of mass adoption. Anchor Bay is constantly looking for new opportunities and will be watching Blu-ray 3D this year. We’ll certainly utilize the format where it makes sense. Obviously, we will not be the first to market on BD 3D, but we will evaluate on a title-by-title basis and, where it makes sense, will release in this format. In fact, there are several titles for 2011 that we are considering.

HM: What’s the 2011 outlook for VOD/streaming/digital delivery of ABE titles?

Clark: Most of Anchor Bay’s titles are available on VOD and digital delivery, and this will continue throughout 2011 and beyond. We are committed to giving our consumers the choice of how they want to view and enjoy our films. We are one of the few independents that can offer filmmakers one-stop distribution. With our parent company Starz and our own distribution venues, we are able to distribute a film among all platforms, including theatrical, TV, pay-TV, VOD and digital, as well as Blu-ray and DVD. We are constantly looking for new avenues and the viability of those avenues to insure Anchor Bay fans can access the films they want to see the way they want to see them.

HM: You were recently inducted into Variety’s Home Entertainment Hall of Fame. What did this honor mean to you, and who in the industry do you think would be good nominees for entry in 2011?

Clark: I was extremely honored to be included in Variety’s Home Entertainment Hall of Fame this year. However, I must say this honor was not so much about me but rather the result of the incredible team at ABE. Their passion and dedication for what we do is unmatched. These are the unsung heroes on the line every day and truly where the rubber meets the road. This is coupled with the unparalleled support and belief in both ABE and the industry from Starz, our parent company. Nominees for 2011 — there are too many to name.


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