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Superrelease Proponents Form Own Home Video Division

4 Nov, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Magnolia Pictures is launching its own home video division to make it easier to carry out parent company 2929 Entertainment's vision of “vertically integrated distribution.”Magnolia Home Entertainment plans on releasing 12 to 24 titles in its first year, four of them following 2929 creators Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner's vision of same-day release across multiple platforms — theatrical, DVD and cable.

The first “super release” is Steven Soderbergh's Bubble, a murder mystery arriving Jan. 31. Bubble also is the first of a six-film package of Soderbergh-directed movies that will be shot in high definition and released simultaneously in theaters, on DVD and on the HDNet Movies television channel.

Randy Wells, formerly VP of home entertainment at Miramax Films, has been tapped to head Magnolia Home Entertainment, which will handle all home video distribution for Magnolia Pictures titles, HDNet Films projects, select projects from HDNet and HDNet Movies, as well as acquisitions.

"We've got great content we produce and acquire, but up to now, it's just been a series of deals [with various distribution partners]," Wells said. “We want to be able to have control over all our titles and put them out the way we want to put them out. Sometimes we do things that are a little controversial, and now if we think something is a good business decision we do it. We're not tied down by any bureaucracy.”

Magnolia Home Entertainment's inaugural release will be Alex Gibney's critically hailed documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, coming to DVD Jan. 17, followed on Jan. 31 by Soderbergh's Bubble and Joseph Castelo's terrorism thriller The War Within.

Other titles in the pipeline include Magnolia Pictures theatrical releases The World's Fastest Indian, with Anthony Hopkins, and One Last Thing…, with Gina Gershon and Ethan Hawke; the Japanese horror film Pulse; documentaries on Hunter S. Thompson, Herbie Hancock and Charles Bukowski; the Argentinean comedy Only Human; and various music, news and entertainment programs from HDNet.

Ultimately, Wells said, more titles will be tapped for same-day release, although at this stage “we're still testing the waters.”

“Windows are collapsing—they've gone from seven months to five to four and now we're even seeing some as short as three months,” he said. “And yet you're still dealing with two big marketing expenses. We believe in combining our efforts and letting the consumer decide how they want to see the film.”

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