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MGM Makes Broadway Video Deal

29 May, 2003 By: Joan Villa

MGM Home Entertainment will distribute Broadway Video Enterprises' upcoming children's titles, including A Freezerburnt Christmas, The Second Star to the Left and the award-winning Hamilton Mattress, as part of a multiyear home video distribution deal.

The North American agreement covers animated family titles that will be launched for the first time on home video in the second half of the year, according to MGM president and COO David Bishop. It's part of MGM's strategy to provide distribution that focuses on the studio's strength in the marketplace, he added. “After we started self-distribution operations, we were barraged with a lot of third-party deals,” Bishop said. “We decided to really focus our energies on two primary areas: one is the children's market, because we saw that was going to be the next growth area for DVD, and, of course, feature film on both the new-release side and the library side.”

The number of titles MGM will distribute will depend on how much new product Broadway's president, Alexander Drosin, acquires. New York-based Broadway, which was founded by “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels, is seeking to aggressively grow its presence in the animation arena by striking partnerships with cutting-edge studios such as Aardman Animations/Egmont Imagination, BBC Animation (Hamilton Mattress), Entertainment Rights (The Second Star to the Left), Wreckless Abandon Studios (A Freezerburnt Christmas) and others. The company also distributes comedy series and music specials.

In a separate development, MGM Home Entertainment Group exercised its option to take control of its distribution functions in Australia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom that had been part of an international agreement with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“With this move, we control 75 percent of [our] international sales, marketing and distribution,” Bishop said. “DVD player penetration in the international marketplace is 12 months to 18 months behind the United States, and growth within our newly self-distributed territories is expected to double by 2006.”

Bishop praised Fox for supporting the transition to self-distribution and said he expects MGM to be on the lookout for new product to feed the international pipeline.

In other international news, Rogers Cable has signed an agreement with MGM to add premium MGM movies to its video-on-demand (VOD) offering, making it the first Canadian cable company to sign a VOD content agreement with a major Hollywood studio.

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