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Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.
Image Entertainment has gotten rights to horror film Damned By Dawn, which is said to pay homage to the “Evil Dead” franchise and Hammer Horror films.
“Damned By Dawn is full of fright and fun,” said Mark Ward, VP of acquisitions for Image Entertainment. “The film is sure to become a cult classic and we’re proud to be adding it to the Image Entertainment lineup for 2010.”
From Australian director Brett Anstey (The Amazing Krypto Bros.), the film follows a girl who, after receiving a mysterious gift from her dying grandmother, takes her new boyfriend to visit her family in an isolated home, where they are haunted by the Screaming Banshee and her army of undead. The horror-fest darling is an official selection at Fright Fest and A Night of Horror International Film Festival, and was shown at the Screamfest Horror Film Festival. There’s no word yet on a DVD release date.
By: Billy Gil
The Global Film Initiative will now distribute DVDs from the Global Lens Collection, which formerly was distributed by First Run Features.
The first two titles in the series released by Global Film Initiative on DVD will be Getting Home, by Chinese director Zhang Yang, and Song From the Southern Seas, by Kazakh director Marat Sarulu, both streeting July 27 at $24.95.
Global Lens is a traveling series of films that has opened at MoMA in New York every year since 2003 and screens at other museums, cultural centers, universities and film festivals, before being released on DVD. More than 30 nations participate in the series, including countries of Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, and some are produced with financial support from the Global Film Initiative.
Now, not only will Global Film Initiative self-distribute the DVDs and handle all markets, including VOD licensing, educational sales, and theatrical and nontheatrical sales, it also has signed an exclusive pay-per-view release deal with Virgin America airlines as well as a multifilm television deal with Latin American channel Venevision.
“Global Lens is the only film series of its kind, and its popularity has increased exponentially in the last few years,” said Santhosh Daniel, director of programs for the Global Film Initiative, in a statement. “So naturally it makes sense to pull distribution in-house instead of using a third-party, to expand release channels and provide direct and more personalized service to our audience — the series is known from Alaska to Austin to New York and we’re responding to that awareness and demand.”
The Global Film Initiative also has announced its Educational Affiliates program to provide public and private libraries a 33% discount off of traditional educational pricing, in addition to access to new titles from the series before their commercial release. The effort extends to high school, college and university libraries as well. Additionally a complementary Cinema in the Schools initiative will help provide the films at a low cost to high schools.
The titles also will be available for rental through Netflix. No Blu-ray Disc or digital-download plans have been announced yet for the series.
“I think our upcoming DVD releases will surprise a lot people — both in and outside the industry,” Daniel said. “From a consumer standpoint, the encodes and menus are very visually appealing and really reflect the cinematic quality of each film. In terms of the industry, like everyone else, we’re looking at digital and other new ways to support a lucrative distribution model. But at the same time, we also know the market we’ve created for Global Lens and expect a 150% increase in home video revenue this next year.”
By: Billy Gil
A new distribution company, Level 33 Entertainment, has launched.
Company executives see an opportunity in the marketplace to supply and distribute original content across all platforms (DVD, video on demand and via the Internet) and market the content to minimize expenses and maximizes profits to rights holders, said EVP Sheldon Brigman, formerly with Ventura Distribution and a former film sales representative with Spy Filmz.
“We’ve heard far too many stories from filmmakers of their disappointing experiences with distributors, where producers and investors end up with the short end of the stick,” Brigman said. “Level 33 looks to break away from that model by partnering with filmmakers to promote their movies and help them realize a bigger share of the profits.”
Level 33 will focus on building fan communities via social networking and online promotions. Brigman said the company will focus on genre and niche films, and aims to acquire and distribute about 12 films in its first full year of operation.
The company has already acquired zombie comedy Aaah! Zombies!!, from director Matthew Kohnen and starring Matthew Davis (“Vampire Diaries”), as well as urban crime thriller Blues, from director and Sundance alum Brandon Sonnier (The Beat), and starring Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof), Ty Hodges (“Even Stevens”) and Ari Graynor (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). They will be released on DVD in August and September.
By: Billy Gil
Michael Winterbottom’s controversial 9 Songs, which puts scenes of a couple making love to indie rock music, is being offered on Blu-ray in two deals from distributor Palisades Tartan.
Those who buy the full uncut version of the film on Blu-ray for $17.99 will receive three more films from the studio at no additional charge (beyond shipping and handling). The films, You the Living, Silent Light and Import Export, have received praise from a variety of sources (You the Living made Roger Ebert’s top 10 films of the year, Martin Scorsese championed Silent Light, and John Waters lovingly called Import Export “depression porn”).
A second deal offers the eight-DVD Vengeance Trilogy set, which includes Oldboy, free with the 9 Songs Blu-ray purchase. A Blu-ray Vengeance Trilogy set will come out June 15.
9 Songs includes music by such artists as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Bondies, Elbow, Primal Scream, The Dandy Warhols, Super Furry Animals, Franz Ferdinand and Michael Nyman.
The film is also available on DVD. The Blu-ray was released May 18.
By: Billy Gil
Virgil Films & Entertainment’s latest acquisition is one for the wise guys: The company has acquired North American distribution rights to The Hungry Ghosts, from writer/director Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”).
The film tells the story of five New Yorkers undergoing crises during a 26-hour period. It stars fellow “Sopranos” alumn Steven Schirripa and Sharon Angela, as well as Aunjanue Ellis (Men of Honor), Nick Sandow (Swimfan) and newcomer Emory Cohen.
Virgil will screen the film in a limited theatrical run this summer, followed by a VOD and cable release and a DVD release after that, in late August. The movie premiered and the 2009 Rotterdam International Film Festival and has screened at the Santa Barbara and Warsaw International Film Festivals.
“Michael’s film features all the great elements of what we know and love,” said Joe Amodei, president of Virgil Films & Entertainment. “Comprised of an edgy script, an amazing cast, and great direction, it resonates the gritty appeal of early John Cassevettes and feels like it came right off the streets of NYC.”
Imperioli adds: “The term ‘Hungry Ghosts’ comes from Tibetan Buddhism. It describes a type of being that possesses a huge stomach, tiny neck and enormous appetites. I found it a fitting metaphor for the characters in our film; human beings under the influence of powerful desires that offer the illusion of wholeness and fulfillment, but in reality prove poisonous and take them further and further away from completion and connection.”
By: Billy Gil