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Image Gets Mixed Martial Arts Arena Events

28 Apr, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Hoping to seize a piece of the lucrative mixed martial arts (MMA) pie, Image Entertainment April 28 said it inked a North American DVD and electronic distribution deal with ProElite Inc., producer of EliteXC and ShoXC-branded MMA events.

Financial terms of the multiyear deal, which expects to produce four EliteXC titles and eight ShoXC titles, annually, were not disclosed.

Initial releases May 13 include Destiny, featuring fighter Frank Shamrock against Renzo Gracie, and Renegade, featuring the MMA debut of Miami-based Kimbo Slice, in addition to a lightweight title fight between Nick Diaz and KJ Noons.

Subsequent release Huntington Beach Bad Ass (July 22) features Huntington Beach, Calif.-based David “Tank” Abbott against Slice.

Retail DVD prices were not disclosed.

“There is a growing market for high-quality arena-based mixed martial arts content,” said Steven DeMille, SVP of marketing for Image. “We are pleased to add ProElite to our roster of content suppliers as we continue to grow both our distribution channels and scope of programming.”

MMA competitions emerged nationally in the 1990s and have now supplanted professional boxing in popularity via events such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Ultimate Fighter, Pride FC and EliteXC, among others.

Heretofore relegated to cable TV and DVD, ProElite and CBS Inc. recently announced beginning May 31 the first of four nationally televised primetime MMA specials.

In addition, Sony Pictures May 8 will bow Redbelt, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (American Gangster) and Tim Allen — one of the first major studio theatrical releases with a mixed martial arts theme.

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