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Paramount to Co-Produce Artist-Themed DVD Titles

2 Nov, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Calling the music consumer a “significantly underserved demographic” in the home video and theatrical markets, Paramount Home Entertainment and Paramount Pictures have signed a co-production and distribution deal with Melee Entertainment, headed by Priority Records' founder Bryan Turner.

Under terms of the three-year agreement, Paramount and Melee would develop six $3 million budgeted direct-to-video, feature-length films over three years targeting music fans across all genres, including hip-hop, R&B, Latino, country and gospel, according to Turner.

“[We look to see if] there is an existing audience that any particular artist might enjoy and somebody that could bring that audience with them from their music career to a movie,” Turner said. “As long as that artist has a fan base that is loyal enough and we can find a property that doesn't deviate very far from what that base audience is accustomed to.”

The titles, which would be created by first-time writers and directors, and expect to begin production early next year, would also being given theatrical consideration depending on the artists involved.

Melee this year produced You Got Served, which generated $40 million at the box office and about $6 million since its May release by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

Melee had nonexclusive production deals with DreamWorks SKG and also disseminated product through Universal Music and Video Distribution.

“I did take Served to [DreamWorks], but that's not the kind of movie they do,” Turner said. “And the deal with Paramount is the same, if they pass on something that we choose to develop we can take it everywhere.”

Much like the 1995 film Friday, which Turner financed and starred Priority artist Ice Cube, You Got Served featured recording artists in character roles, including R&B artists Marques Houston and B2K, and rappers Lil' Kim and J-Boog, Raz B and Lil' Fizz.

“[Those films] showed that artists don't have to play themselves to capture their fans' attentions,” Turner said.

“Bryan's experience and relationships in the music world are the perfect complement to our goal of rapidly growing this segment of the business,” said Thomas Lesinkski, president, Paramount Pictures, world home entertainment.

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