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USA Inks Deal With Screen Media

11 Jan, 2002 By: Stephanie Prange

USA Home Entertainment has entered a video distribution deal with Screen Media Films to bolster its rental slate.

Former A-Pix Entertainment executive Robert Baruc is president of Screen Media Films, a new subsidiary of TV syndicator Screen Media Ventures.

The venture plans to release about 12 primarily direct-to-video titles a year, one a month. The first release will be Looking for an Echo, starring Armande Assante, due April 23. Screen Media will acquire or co-produce the films. USA will handle all sales and distribution.

"[The deal] fills up my pipeline with strong direct-to-video product to complement theatrical product I get from USA Films," says USA Home Entertainment president Joe Amodei. "It also gives me yet more product to put into the ever-expanding DVD rental business."

Video veteran Baruc, who in addition to heading A-Pix started Academy Entertainment in 1985, says Screen Media will look for independent films with star power. Other upcoming titles include the actioner The Street King with Mario Lopez and Jon Seda; the erotic thriller Pretty When You Cry with Sam Elliot and Jamie Kennedy; and the horror film The Demon Within.

In discussing the deal, Baruc says USA can "give attention" to Screen Media titles. "I think it's a terrific company. I think they have one of the best sales forces out there," he says. "Most important to me, they're passionate about their films."

Both companies are also based in New York, he notes.

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