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Showtime, Koch in New Distribution Deals

3 Apr, 2003 By: Joan Villa

The controversial independent thriller Interview With the Assassin from Screen Media Films will be the first film released under a multiyear home video distribution deal with Showtime Entertainment.

In a separate agreement, Koch Entertainment Distribution signed an exclusive deal to distribute Passport Video's entire catalog, including DVD collector sets such as The Beatles: A Long and Winding Road and Elvis: The Definitive Collection Revised.

For Showtime, this is the studio's second foray into third-party distribution following its current deal with Sundance Channel Home Entertainment, according to Sallie Fraenkel, Showtime's SVP of program enterprises. Both lines fit with Showtime's goal of establishing itself as a high-quality distributor of independent film, and the studio expects to sign more such deals in the future, she said.

“It's definitely a direction we're interested in and something we'll do more of in the future, although we're not looking actively unless it makes sense with our product mix,” she said.

The Screen Media Films agreement will cover up to eight releases each year. Some of the films, such as Assassin, had a box office run, while the second title on the release slate, Case of Evil: Sherlock, starring Vincent D'Onofrio, played on cable. “We think it deserves a broader life,” Fraenkel said.

Assassin will be released on DVD June 17 (prebook May 20) at $24.98, backed by a national radio promotion. It also will be available as a specially priced two-pack containing both VHS and DVD, Fraenkel said. Screen Media Films, headed by president Robert Baruc, will still handle marketing and promotions, she said.

At Koch, the Passport Video distribution deal will help the independent music company grow its DVD business, Koch president Michael Rosenberg said.

“Passport Video's high-profile line of entertainment programs and documentaries broadens our selection of quality DVD product in this expanding market and is a perfect fit for us,” he said.

Other titles in the catalog include The Rolling Stones: Just for the Record and Kiss: Live in Las Vegas. Passport, headed by video veteran Herb Dorfman, owns a library of 16,000 trailers and 3,000 feature films, plus 90 years of news and celebrity interview footage.

“Koch's continued growth is testament to its outstanding sales, marketing and distribution capabilities in the expanding DVD marketplace,” Dorfman said.

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