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New Line Ramps Up DTV

19 Sep, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

New Line Home Entertainment is wreaking Havoc on the direct-to-video (DTV) market.

The supplier brought back Kevin Kasha as SVP of acquisitions and programming more than a year ago to help guide its strategy of releasing and marketing more DTV titles.

“The mission was to ramp up this area,” said Kasha, who while at Miramax played a key role in acquiring DTV product. “It's not about spending less or more money. It is about putting the dollars behind the areas that we want to focus on.”

Due Nov. 29 (prebook Oct. 25) is Havoc, starring Anne Hathaway in a role chosen to help her grow out of her Princess Diaries reputation. The story follows a group of spoiled, rich teenagers who go slumming in downtown Los Angeles at night to abate their boredom and end up with more than they bargained for.

First, however, comes 11:14 Oct. 11, a movie starring and executive-produced by Hilary Swank, about how a diverse group of people's lives intersect in one moment. Quality is the watchword behind these acquisitions.

“It's the cast; it's the production values,” Kasha said. “We also are looking for programming that our customers will support.”

As part of that, New Line also is planning to extend its most popular franchises with new titles. That might mean more Poison Ivy, House Party and Friday, along with new “line-extendable” brands that are still in negotiations. New Line expects to release about eight to 10 DTV titles a year.

The decision to focus more on DTV titles is partly because the viewing experience at home is improving so much and so fast.

“I think the line between watching a film in theaters and watching it in the comfort of your living room is getting more blurry,” Kasha said.

Getting attention for DTV titles at traditional mass and specialty retail can be a challenge, and relies heavily on film quality, Kasha said.

“They are always going to stock the multimillion-dollar box office hits,” he said. “It is about trying to generate shelf space for other titles that are in the marketplace. These films have real budgets and real casts.”

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