Former Ventura Execs Go Codeblack13 Mar, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Preaching to the Choir
The recent No. 1 box office status of Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion pained urban entertainment executives Jeff Clanagan and Quincy Newell with upstart Codeblack Entertainment.
And not because Perry has become a financial juggernaut for Lionsgate.
Clanagan and Newell, who formerly ran UrbanWorks, a unit of Ventura Distribution, knew about Perry years before his act attracted nationwide attention. Budget concerns at UrbanWorks, however, precluded them from approaching Perry.
“If that happened now, we would be in business with Tyler because with our partner we are just in a better position financially,” said Codeblack CEO and president Clanagan. “It's very frustrating.”
Codeblack, however, isn't crying over the lost opportunity. On March 17, the Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based company will bow the urban standup comedy Steve Harvey: Don't Trip … He Ain't Through with Me. The DVD streets May 2 (prebook April 3) at $19.99, released through Visual Entertainment, a unit of Universal Music Group.
A second title, Preaching to the Choir, releases theatrically April 14 in 22 markets prior to its undisclosed DVD debut. The releases are part of an ambitious theatrical campaign for content other studios might earmark exclusively for DVD.
Another title, The Salon stars Vivica A. Fox and recent Oscar nominee Terence Howard (Crash).
“If the film is performing theatrically, that is going to determine the appropriate [DVD] window,” said Quincy Newell, EVP and GM. “Being a smaller company and in tune with the marketing dollars we are spending behind a film, we want to make sure we are as efficient as possible.”
Clannigan said he hasn't “bought into” the day-and-date DVD/theatrical concept, but he does recognize a shrinking theatrical window.
“You definitely want to piggyback on the theatrical campaign,” he said. “So shrinking the window makes a lot of sense but we have to be careful we don't shrink it too much to where the exhibitors feel it is imposing on their business.”
Clanagan and Newell said they wanted to create a company that would allow African-American filmmakers who hit a wall with the studios more than a possible DVD deal.
“It is tough for them to get any type of theatrical deal,” Clanagan said. “We are taking the old Miramax model that is in between the studios and the DVD distributor. It is a much different experience in a theater with 300 or 400 people than at home alone watching a comedy special.”