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Columbia TriStar In Another Indie Deal: Cloud Ten

9 Aug, 2004 By: Jessica Wolf


Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has teamed up with Cloud Ten Entertainment to distribute the niche supplier's catalog, which includes the “Left Behind” series of Christian-themed films — Left Behind: The Movie, Left Behind II: Tribulation Force, Revelation, Tribulation, Judgment, Waterproof, Miracle of the Cards and Apocalypse and Deceived.

Suzanne White, VP of family catalog marketing for CTHE, said the popularity of films like The Passion of the Christ and the ratings success of Sony Television's hit show “Joan of Arcadia” have made it clear there is a hunger for faith-based programming in the entertainment market — one that's been underserved. In September, CTHE will take the Cloud Ten catalog of such programming under its distribution wing, hoping to revitalize the series and fill the market need with “retailer specific” marketing, she said.

“We believe there is an enormous market for faith-based material out there,” agreed Peter Lalonde, CEO of Cloud Ten Entertainment. Cloud Ten had been searching for a large distribution partner for about two years, Lalonde said. “Along comes [CTHE president] Ben Feingold, and this guy and I saw eye-to-eye from the first,” he said.

Combining the resources of a major studio and the intricate genre-specific know-how of Cloud Ten is going to create a greater opportunity to reach the 80 million practicing Christians in this country, Lalonde said.

At this year's VSDA Home Entertainment 2004 convention, GoodTimes Home Entertainment touted the inspirational market as a fairly untapped area for video retailers — especially independents — and cited research that shows 80 percent of Christian-themed video purchases happen at secular retail locations.

That's why having a broader company with more resources is important for Cloud Ten's already successful “Left Behind” series, Lalonde said. Look at the growth of Christian music over the last two decades, he said.

“Now, for every 10 country and western CDs sold, seven Christian music CDs are [sold],” Lalonde said. “We believe the exact same thing could happen with film, but we don't have the resources or, frankly, the expertise that a studio has.”

Cloud Ten had already found retail success with the “Left Behind” series; the first video performed so well a theatrical release followed the home entertainment debut.

“We've now sold through about 4 million units [of the original Left Behind] and for a smaller studio, that's staggering,” Lalonde said.

CTHE's White noted that the “Left Behind” titles are already strong, consistent sellers.

“There's no seasonality to it. They don't just sell at Easter or at Christmas; they do great day in and day out,” she said. CTHE's job now, she said, is to ensure the titles get a bigger presence and a higher profile at retail locations, with in-store promotional materials, getting in retail circulars and the like.

Lalonde said it's possible the partnership with CTHE could do more than refresh sales of the original catalog. “The ‘Left Behind' franchise had some hiccups, some legal issues with regard to rights from the original author of the books,” he said. “We got it all sorted out, but it sort of left us spinning our wheels for a time when we'd have liked to have been making more movies.”

CTHE's distribution move with Cloud Ten marks the third time in recent months the studio has teamed up with a smaller supplier for retail distribution, having formed a partnership with Hart Sharp Entertainment to distribute the anticipated documentary Super Size Me and garnering video distribution rights for Michael Moore's hot-button Fahrenheit 9/11.

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