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Image Eyes ‘Electric’ 2009

9 Dec, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

While much of the home entertainment industry hunkers down during the economic recession, Image Entertainment Dec. 9 invited key retailers to the posh Beverly Hills Hotel to underscore its commitment to releasing higher-profile, cast-driven feature films on Blu-ray, DVD and theatrically in 2009.

The Chatsworth, Calif.-based distributor said it intends to generate the majority of revenue (27%) from feature films, beginning March 24 with the release of Louisiana-based thriller In the Electric Mist with Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard, Mary Steenburgen and Ned Beatty.

Image president David Borshell said the distributor inked the deal for Mist last month. He said the film’s Blu-ray release would, like other titles, take advantage of a growing HD packaged-media market about which the distributor is cautiously optimistic.

“We have nothing budgeted for Blu-ray revenue, so we’ll take whatever we can get,” Borshell said.

A screening of the film to rentailers such as Blockbuster, Netflix, Hastings Entertainment, Best Buy and Borders, among others, featured an appearance by Jack Nicholson, a friend of the movie’s producer, Michael Fitzgerald, who urged support of independent movies at retail.

Other feature films slated for release include The Edge of Love with Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller; Management, produced by and starring Jennifer Aniston, with Steve Zahn; quirky comedy $5 a Day with Christopher Walken and Amanda Peet; Incendiary with Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams; and erotic thriller Powder Blue with Forest Whitaker and Jessica Biel.

Bill Bromiley, chief acquisitions officer at Image, said Management had long been a pet project of Aniston and joked he looked forward to working personally with the actress with its release.

“We know she’s going to be involved [with promotion],” Bromiley said. “I already told my wife it is part of the deal.”

Image, which just signed an agreement to be acquired by Nyx Acquisitions for $100 million, also intends to actively distribute DVDs from upstart ventriloquist Terry Fator, winner of the 2007 edition of the “America’s Got Talent” reality show.

After the Criterion Collection and Discovery Channel, comedy represents one of Image’s largest revenue streams, underscored by the success of Jeff Dunham, whose Very Special Christmas Special DVD shipped 750,000 units, according to Image.

Other revenue drivers include classic TV and music DVD, among others.

Borshell said Image is on track for its most successful fiscal year, and would attempt to leverage that success (revenue projections from $125 million to $130 million) to attract DVD lines from distressed distributors impacted by the economy and other issues.

“We are certainly a reasonable distribution source for some of these companies,” he said. “We are in a unique position and we don’t take it for granted. We are very grateful.”

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