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Genius Signs Co-Production Deal with RHI

14 May, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Seeking not to put all its eggs in The Weinstein Co. basket, Genius Products LLC May 14 announced it has signed a co-production deal with RHI Entertainment LLC (formerly Hallmark Entertainment) for up to 48 original direct-to-video titles.

The deal, which includes 24 western and 24 adventure genre titles, will commence filming initial releases Lone Rider, Prairie Fever, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this year, according to a company statement.

The movies are slated to air beginning June 29 on ION Media Networks, an independent distributor reaching more than 90 million U.S. households.

Cast and budgets for the titles were not disclosed.

Last December, Genius inked a distribution deal for New York-based RHI's library of 4,000 miniseries and made-for-TV programming.

RHI produces about 40 made-for-TV movies for Spike, Sci Fi Channel and Hallmark Channel, and an estimated five miniseries produced for the major networks annually.

Recent Hallmark titles include recurring series “Mystery Woman: Redemption” with Kellie Martin (“ER”), mini-series “Blackbeard,” “The Curse of King Tut's Tomb” with Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), and “The Ten Commandments” with Naveen Andrews (“Lost”).

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Genius, which is 70% owned by TWC and exclusive DVD distributor for the Bob and Harvey Weinstein-owned film company, has actively sought to diversify its portfolio into four categories, including family/faith, lifestyle, sports and theatrical/independent — the latter including RHI.

“The economic model associated with this new co-production agreement enables us to leverage our distribution channels with minimum upfront investment,” said Trevor Drinkwater, president and CEO of Genius. “We expect that it will also further enhance our operating margins and accelerate our stated mission of increasing our critical mass of owned content in both the physical and digital distribution arenas.”

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