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MGM Dives Into Direct-to-video

5 Feb, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

MGM has become the latest studio to jump into the lucrative direct-to-video business, hiring Jason Weiss to oversee a new division charged with the development and production of 12 or more films a year.

Weiss assumes the title of VP of the new unit. He reports to Charlie Cohen, MGM's senior EVP of finance and corporate development.

Weiss is a 12-year veteran of feature film production. Most recently he was at MTV Films, where he oversaw 25 projects, including such titles as The Dirt, Black Hole, The Suffering, Runnin', Born to Rock and The Wheelman.

The announcement was made by MGM COO Rick Sands, who praised Weiss for his “breadth of experience, coupled with his ability to develop projects based on marketplace and cultural trends.”

“As consumers around the globe continue to want to view films in both the cinema and as well as in their homes, the demand for quality direct to video productions will only increase,” Sands said. “One of MGM's primary activities is to continually replenish as well as maximize revenues from its large catalog of film and television programming.”

There's no word yet on specific projects or when the first DTV productions from the new MGM division will be released.

Before joining MTV Films, Weiss oversaw production and development for Paramount Pictures and New Regency Productions. He's supervised a wide range of films, including Along Came a Spider, Don't Say a Word, The Runaway Jury, Just My Luck and Daredevil.

Most other major studios already are aggressive players in the direct-to-video market, which is an outgrowth of the widening swathe of distribution channels, both physical and electronic, as well as the flattening of the DVD growth curve.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment over the last 12 years has released more than 200 DTVs, both acquisitions and productions. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are aggressively mining their theatrical catalogs for hit movies worthy of direct-to-video sequels. And Warner Bros. last August launched a dedicated DTV division, Warner Premiere, that is headed by veteran marketing executive Diane Nelson, previously executive VP of global brand management. The unit's blueprint calls for the production of up to 15 original films a year, beginning with the prequel Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, due March 20.

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