First Look[ing] Beyond Urban With Master P12 Jul, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel
First Look Home Entertainment Monday announced the signing of an exclusive three-year distribution deal with hip-hop impresario Master P and his DVD label, Hollyhood Cinema.
Initial releases include the comedy Repos (July 11); If the Shoe Fits, Wear It (Aug. 1) and Master P's Stars of Comedy (Aug. 29). Don't Be Scared, a teen-based horror spoof, is slated for release Oct. 31. All titles, which have individual budgets less than $1 million, retail for $19.99 and include free soundtrack CDs featuring songs from Master P, his son Romeo (formerly Lil' Romeo) and the Gutter Music All-Stars.
First Look has first right of refusal on 24 other Hollyhood titles in production. Genres include comedy, drama, romance, sci-fi and horror.
Master P, who claims to have sold 75 million records over a 10-year career, said he is getting out of the music business to develop Hollyhood Cinema. He doesn't deny that Tyler Perry's phenomenal success with the “Madea's Family” franchise was in no small part the catalyst to make him start focusing on videos.
“His success caught me by surprise,” Master P said. “If we sell half what ‘Madea's' did, we would be in a good position. I think Tyler Perry opened up a whole new market.”
He recognized that much of Perry's appeal has been establishing crossover success in the non-urban markets. Master P said the urban genre originated through hip-hop music and that now the fan wants to visualize and not just hear what is going on.“This is a bigger business than just urban,” he said. “I don't want these movies to be stereotyped as shoot 'em ups. I want to break away from that.”All the movies will have a message about life, surviving and doing the right thing, he said.
Master P said aligning with First Look gives him the option of distributing titles both theatrically and in home video.
To keep costs low and develop a brand, Master P plans to incorporate a recurring cast of characters and actors similar to what Bill Cosby used to success in the 1970s in Uptown Saturday Night, co-starring Sydney Poitier and Richard Pryor.
As a result, Repos stars comedian A.J. Johnson, who Master P cast in his first feature video, I Got the Hookup, which sold 500,000 units.
“I want to use the same people to build an audience so when you see Hollyhood Cinema you know who is in it,” Master P said.
Master P intends to use his music connection to develop word of mouth and local buzz.