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Veterans Form New Family-Friendly Label

13 Mar, 2003 By: Joan Villa

Veteran independent film producers Jeffrey Sneller and Charles Fries have teamed to form a new family-oriented home entertainment company, Santa Barbara Home Video (SBHV).

“Santa Barbara Home Video puts Charles and I in control of the marketing and the distribution,” Sneller said. “We produce, finance and distribute, both theatrically and on video, so that our rewards rise and fall on our efforts. We are in the position to give the product its best opportunity, and unlike the majors, we have both money and time, so we are able to put a lot of care into the making and marketing of our pictures.”

SBHV's first release will be The New Adventures of Pinocchio, due out Apr. 15 and featuring Martin Landau in the role he first played in The Adventures of Pinocchio, which also starred Jonathan Taylor Thomas. The Sneller-produced 1999 sequel was distributed theatrically in Europe and aired in the United States on HBO Family, Sneller said. The $14.99 DVD will be released through an exclusive distribution deal with Image Entertainment, he said.

In June, SBHV will release two independent films on DVD: Southern Cross, starring Esai Morales and Valentina Vargas, and For Hire, with Rob Lowe and Michael Ironside. This summer the studio will also begin filming two new features: a third Pinocchio film and a co-production with Powerhouse Entertainment titled Doctor Lopez.

According to Fries, the new company will acquire and distribute “passion projects” to give independent filmmakers an alternative. Plus, SBHV will seek mainstream films with an emphasis on the evergreen, family product produced by Fries Entertainment in the 1970s and '80s.

“We're selective in what we acquire, because we have to devote a lot of time and attention to each individual film if it's going to succeed,” Fries said. “We look for product that we feel has a reason to be in the marketplace -- not just anything.”

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