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ThinkFilm Has Heady Plans

10 Mar, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Indie supplier/acquisitions company ThinkFilm is making some strategic moves to boost its catalog and its profile in the home entertainment market with a firmly tiered structure of theatrical, direct-to-video and kidvid brands.

With the May 31 and June 28 releases of the acclaimed documentaries Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine and Overnight, respectively, the supplier will distribute the two titles for the first time solely under the ThinkFilm brand.

Traditionally, ThinkFilm has licensed the home video rights to its higher profile theatrical titles to bigger studios, such as New Line Home Entertainment, which carries six of ThinkFilm's titles including Festival Express, The Story of the Weeping Camel and the upcoming The Assassination of Richard Nixon. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release ThinkFilm's Academy Award-nominated Being Julia.

The company would like to shift away from these deals and create ones that are more of a partnership with larger studios, akin to the way Hart Sharp Video teamed up with Sony to maximize sales to retail for the Oscar-nominated Super Size Me, said Marc Hirshberg, SVP of finance and operations for ThinkFilm.

“Our mantra right now is we want to maintain our own rights and not depreciate our catalog,” he said.

Super Size Me lost out on Oscar night to another ThinkFilm doc, Born Into Brothels, which follows photographer Zana Briski to Calcutta, India, where she taught the children of prostitutes about photography and art.

“This is one example,” Hirshberg said. “We definitely want to be selling our own Oscar-winning film. Though that's not to say we won't be partnering with a major in some shape or form.”

Born Into Brothels is just starting its theatrical run and will likely hit video within the next six months, Hirshberg said.

Meanwhile, the company also keeps a hefty slate of direct-to-video titles in the pipeline through its Velocity Home Entertainment brand. About 20-24 titles hit the market under the Velocity logo each year, and Hirshberg said that will continue.

ThinkFilm recently announced its launch of a kidvid line with ThinkKids. The first titles to hit video under this new label will come this summer from two new series, “Braincandy” and “My First Day.”

About 10 kidvid titles will arrive within a 12-month period from ThinkFilm, Hirshberg said.

“We definitely want to elevate our own distribution of home video,” he said.

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