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Genius Looks to Theatrical Push

16 Aug, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Genius Products is promoting the theatrical release of the foreign film The Beat That My Heart Skipped, the first of more than 750 independent titles the San Diego-based distributor acquired in March when purchasing American Vantage Co., parent of Wellspring Home Entertainment.

Genius, which has primarily been a distributor of budget DVD product since 2004, sought out Wellspring in an effort to build street credibility among independent filmmakers and distributors. Genius also secured license agreements to release DVD fare under the IFilm and Sundance Channel Home Entertainment brands.

“That's what we really liked about the Wellspring deal: We control theatrical, TV and video revenue streams because we are one company,” said Genius CEO Trevor Drinkwater.

Similar deals exist for TV DVD fare with TV Guide and AMC, and comedy and animation product with National Lampoon and Bazooka Joe Presents, respectively, according to Drinkwater.

Genius, which recently reacquired from Warner Home Video the rights to its Baby Genius DVD kids line, has been busy restructuring its portfolio and product offerings.

The company Oct. 18 will release for the first time on UMD Shortsplay and Shortsplay Extreme (each $19.99), separate collections of live-action and animated short films under license from Shorts International.

Drinkwater remains convinced theatrical releases act as ideal promotional vehicles for future home entertainment and cable distribution.

The Beat That My Heart Skipped, which is in its fifth week in theatrical release, has generated about $700,000 in box office, one of the best foreign-film releases in the United States this summer, according to Drinkwater.

Heart Skipped will hopefully drive over $1 million at the box office, which, at the end of the day, won't be a huge profit, but it will have a significant impact in its video release,” Drinkwater said.

Genius/Wellspring will release seven films through the end of the year, and five to seven annually thereafter.

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