Tag Archives: Entertainment one

ThinkFilm inks Canadian deal

TORONTO — Indie distributor ThinkFilm has inked an output deal with Canadian distributor Entertainment One to release its titles north of the border through 2010.

ThinkFilm, which was acquired in late 2006 by Los Angeles-based film financier and distributor David Bergstein, also sold Entertainment One the Canadian rights to its 235-strong feature film library.

The sale to Bergstein forced ThinkFilm to put its Canadian assets on the auction block to comply with foreign ownership rules.

Entertainment One, like ThinkFilm based in Toronto, will acquire the 235 features for the remainder of the term that ThinkFilm owns the pictures. Entertainment One now has more than 700 films in its catalog.

The ThinkFilm library includes a host of Sony Pictures Classics titles including Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Pedro Almodovar’s “All About My Mother,” Ed Harris’ “Pollock” and Woody Allen’s “Sweet and Lowdown.”

Patrice Theroux, head of filmed entertainment at Entertainment One, said that about 75 of the ThinkFilm titles are ripe for full DVD exploitation, while another 75 will be aimed at the broadcast market.

As part of the pact, Seville Entertainment, Entertainment One’s newly acquired Canadian film distributor, will release between eight and 12 ThinkFilm theatrical titles each year through 2010.

Upcoming ThinkFilm titles include Paul Schrader’s “The Walker,” Jieho Lee’s “The Air I Breathe” and two documentaries: “Nanking,” directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, and Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side.”

Theroux said that Seville will annually get another 12 straight-to-DVD titles from ThinkFilm.

“The synergy for us is being able to continue to exploit the ThinkFilm library and release the new titles on theatrical and DVD using Seville, which allows us to generate revenue at a reduced cost compared to what ThinkFilm incurred to do it themselves,” Theroux said.

ThinkFilm, formed in 2001 by former Lionsgate executives, remains based in Toronto with company founder and CEO Jeff Sackman at the helm. But it is largely run out of New York by theatrical distribution head Mark Urman.

In addition to Montreal-based Seville, Entertainment One also acquired European distributor RCV Entertainment BV last year, part of a plan to create an international distribution powerhouse.

Entertainment One last week announced that it will release titles from Los Angeles-based Yari Film Group in Canada. It also has a supply agreement with Summit Entertainment.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Alliance Atlantis and Thinkfilm Distribution Set To Change Channels

As the Toronto International Film Festival gets ready to unspool the best field of Canadian films in years, the current shake-up of Canadian distributors has an air of déjà vu.

Producers and distributors have been unsettled by events including a year-long upheaval at Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution and ThinkFilm’s ongoing activity in Canada despite being American-owned for one year.

"Things are in movement, for sure. I’m as curious as everyone else to see where everything lands," says Hussain Amarshi, president of Mongrel Media, which has titles at TIFF including The Jane Austen Book Club and Canuck auteur Carl Bessai’s Normal.

Also making waves is Robert Lantos’ new shop, Maximum Film Distribution, which will handle fest opener Fugitive Pieces, which he produced, and Entertainment One entering the ring by taking over Seville Entertainment, with former MPD president and CEO Patrice Théroux at the helm.

It is the second such distribution shake-up in a decade. The last time events so transformed the sector – lifting it, in fact, to new heights – was 1997.

That year – when Thom Fitzgerald’s The Hanging Garden grabbed the TIFF audience award – witnessed a changing of the guard, as players including CFP, Norstar, Malofilm and Everest Entertainment made way for upstarts Red Sky Entertainment, Equinoxe Films and Motion International.

Fast forward 10 years later, as uncertainty at MPD – formerly controlled by Alliance Atlantis, and now owned by Goldman Sachs and EdgeStone Capital Partners – has rivals eyeing output deals coming up for renewal with U.S. partners including New Line Cinema and Focus Features.

"Whatever uncertainty exists over there may provide opportunity for incumbent suppliers to look around," says Brad Pelman, co-president of Maple Pictures.

Elsewhere, Entertainment One looks to make a splash at TIFF after acquiring Seville, a move that follows the DVD distributor’s purchase of British distributor Contender Entertainment as part of its international expansion.

"We bought Seville as we want an established, mature distribution company in Canada to build upon. [Seville] has a track record, a good library of movies, and an operation where they can sell Canadian movies into the international market," Théroux explains.

Seville’s high-profile Canadian films at TIFF this year include Shake Hands with the Devil, Poor Boy’s Game and fest closer Emotional Arithmetic.

Th̩roux adds that Entertainment One will be acquiring global rights to product for international distribution Рexcept in the U.S. market, where he will focus on DVD and broadcast sales.

"It will allow us to negotiate multi-territory deals, and provide the collateral to complete the financing of individual films," Théroux says, with a focus on acquiring and releasing Canadian films.

"Our investment return will not be reliant on any one territory, and everyone will benefit from the sharing of distribution costs," he adds.

Théroux worked at MPD under Victor Loewy, who is currently negotiating for a promotion from consultant to CEO at that firm, Canada’s largest indie distributor, which is now under new ownership.

Loewy welcomes new competition, not least of all from former colleagues Théroux and Lantos.

"Those companies will bid for films, whether Seville or Robert’s new company. So there will be a realignment of sorts, and we’ll see how this plays out," he says.

Lantos is converting his near-half stake in ThinkFilm – sold along with the company in October 2006 to Los Angeles-based David Bergstein and Capital Pictures – into Maximum Films.

Tony Cianciotta and Charlotte Mickie, former Lantos employees at Alliance Releasing (as it was called before the merger of Alliance and Atlantis) are key in the new company, as managing directors of Maximum Film Distribution and Maximum Films International, respectively.

Over at ThinkFilm, CEO Jeff Sackman dismisses industry concerns over his company’s continuing presence in Canada under American ownership. He says Think is in talks with Canadian Heritage with an eye to settling all concerns.

Also stepping up its game is Christal Films, which is distributing pictures nationwide out of a new Toronto office. And Peace Arch Entertainment has launched a division to release movies stateside, and is combining the newly acquired U.S. DVD distributor Trinity Home Entertainment with Canadian home entertainment distributor kaBOOM! Entertainment to increase the Canadian distribution of its growing film slate.

Peace Arch president John Flock says his company is looking to follow Lionsgate in becoming a vertically integrated producer and distributor.

"We can’t do it on the margins. You have to be a distribution company if you want to succeed," he says.

For its part, Lionsgate, having severed ties with Christal, is mulling once again releasing its own titles in Canada after selling its Canadian distribution arm to Maple in 2005.

A Lionsgate spokesman says a few options are on the table, including enlarging its minority stake in Maple.

Maple’s Pelman says Lionsgate, as a technically Canadian company, can consider a return to distribution here at any time.

But he cautions that Lionsgate has "multiple years" left on its library and output agreements with Maple.

Despite all this hungry competition, Bryan Gliserman, president of Toronto-based Odeon Films (part of the MPD family), expects a strong market at TIFF’s 32nd edition for his company.

"While it is a very competitive environment in which to acquire films, we remain optimistic that with the hard work carried out by our skilled team, we may find a few valuable films," he says.

Entertainment One alternatives

TORONTO (CP) _ Entertainment One Income Fund (TSX:EOF.UN) has formed a special committee to identify and evaluate strategic alternatives to enhance unitholder value, the company announced.

The trust said it has hired Genuity Capital Markets as the special committee’s financial adviser to help in the process. The review could lead to the sale of the DVD and CD distributor, new partners or financing deals, although the company cautioned "there can be no assurance that this strategic alternative review process will result in any strategic transaction."

The fund said it will also review refinancing proposals in its bid to boost its balance sheet.

Entertainment One, formerly known as ROW Entertainment, is Canada’s largest wholesale distributor of DVDs, CDs, video games and accessories to small and large retail chains and independent retailers.