Alliance Doubles Down on Disc Business to Fill Void Left by Ingram Exit

The Blu-ray Disc and DVD marketplace took a big hit when — on the eve of the fourth quarter — major distributor Ingram Entertainment announced it would exit the business.

Alliance Entertainment executives say their company is filling that void, stepping up in the wake of the announcement.

The company has added business from many key accounts, some new to Alliance and some who have shared business between the distributors.  These accounts include Baker & Taylor, Walmart.com, Bluestem, Vintage Stock, Hallmark (franchise stores), Bull Moose, Zia, and Diabolik, amongst others.  Additional work continues to onboard other key accounts via the e-commerce and grocery channels.

“There will also be some gains with accounts that we had previously shared with Ingram, such as Hot Topic, Urban Outfitters and Rarewaves,” says Carlos Franca, VP, ecommerce sales and operations.

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The goal has been to ensure that there is no interruption of service to retail partners during the fourth quarter and to pave the way for strong, ongoing relationships with all involved, executives say.

Alliance’s Distribution Solutions division, who sold home media products directly to Ingram, pivoted immediately to assist the Alliance sales teams in securing accounts quickly.  “Our previous knowledge and direct relationships with many on Ingram’s account base helped prioritize and insure account coverage during Q4,” says Kevin Quigley, senior director of sales for Distribution Solutions.

Alliance’s broad reach across numerous classes of trade gave these accounts an immediate and reliable solution, executives say. These classes of trade include ecommerce, independent retail, grocery/general merchandise, and specialty shops.  Within hours of Ingram’s closing announcement, the Alliance Entertainment sales team began to contact and secure business from these stranded accounts, ensuring they had stock on the shelves for Q4, credit lines secured, data and EDI feeds linked, and more. Alliance sprang into action and was able to normalize business for most of these accounts before Oct. 31, when Ingram largely stopped shipping to their account base.

“Alliance stepped in, to secure key accounts from all parts of the business, including movies, music and video games,” adds Ken Glaser, Alliance SVP of sales. “We have aligned with our studio, publisher, and label partners to ensure nothing is left behind. Additionally, we’ve been able to hire some Ingram account managers to help ensure a smooth transition and continue to maintain a high level of service for these accounts.”

“We continue to work closely with these customers, many with which we have previous relationships with, serving other parts of their business. Many customers will benefit from our larger breadth of inventory, especially those aligning on the ecommerce front.”

 

MVD Entertainment Group and Gotham Distribution Corp. Join Forces to Form Old School Ventures

MVD Entertainment Group and Gotham Distribution Corp. have formed Old School Ventures, a new entity formed between the companies to run, service and administrate the music and film consumer direct business, Oldies.com. 

Old School Ventures will operate out of MVD’s headquarters in Pottstown, Pa., and will be headed up by industry veteran Joe Buesgen, who has been VP of marketing at Oldies.com since 2000.  

“With the combined expertise and resources of MVD and Gotham, we are well-positioned to take Oldies.com to the next level and continue to innovate in the industry,” Buesgen said in a statement. “This partnership represents a great opportunity to leverage our strengths and provide our customers with the best possible experience.”  
 
MVD, founded in 1986, is a full-service music and movie distribution firm, exclusively representing a catalog of audio and visual products for DVD, Blu-ray, CD, vinyl and digital rights, worldwide. Ed Seaman and Eve Edwards are co-CEOs of MVD.

“MVD has been working with Gotham & Collectables closely for the last 20-plus years and we know them very well; this opportunity to be in business with the Greene family is an honor,” Seaman said in a statement. “We are very optimistic about the future of collectible physical media, and together we are going to make a great team.” 

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Founded in 1980 by Nina Greene, Jerry Greene and Melissa Greene-Anderson, Gotham Distributing Corp. is a music and movie distribution company based in West Conshohocken, Pa. Over the past two decades, their Oldies.com division has grown into one of the largest music and movie consumer-direct catalog and e-commerce companies in the United States. Gotham is also the home of Collectables Records, a reissue record label established in 1980, and Alpha Video, an entertainment company that specializes in the manufacturing and marketing of classic movies and TV shows on DVD.  

“After the sale of our iconic warehouse along the Blue Route, we realized that it was time to explore other options and partnerships that could help us continue to grow and serve our customers,” Jerry Greene said in a statement. “The formation of Old School Ventures with MVD Entertainment Group is a perfect example of how we are leveraging our strengths and resources to take Oldies.com to new heights. We are excited about this new chapter in our company’s history and look forward to working closely with our partners to build a bright future for the music and movie consumer-direct business.” 

Operations transfer to the new entity Old School Ventures on March 29.  

Sony Pictures and Legendary Entertainment Ink Distribution Deal

Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group and Legendary Entertainment Nov. 28 announced a new multiyear worldwide film distribution partnership under which Sony Pictures will market and distribute Legendary’s new upcoming theatrical motion picture titles.

Sony Pictures will also handle home entertainment and TV distribution for the titles it releases. Legendary retains the option to produce and distribute feature film content for the wide range of streaming platforms existing both today and for future incarnations. 

Sony Pictures and Legendary are aligned in their ongoing commitment to theatrical distribution as a driver for other “downstream” windows and the theatrical window’s long-term value for films, according to a press release.

As part of the pact, Sony Pictures will market and distribute new Legendary theatrical releases worldwide excluding China, where Legendary East will handle all marketing and distribution activities.

Legendary will also continue to remain in business with Warner Bros. Pictures on select existing titles including the upcoming Dune: Part Two, currently in production and slated for release on Nov. 3, 2023.

“It’s a rare opportunity to partner in this mutually beneficial way with true pros, who are completely aligned in our theatrical commitment and vision for this business,” Josh Greenstein and Sanford Panitch, presidents of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, said in a statement. “The creative brilliance and power of Legendary is huge and we look forward to bringing their work to theaters across the world.”

“As we continue to grow our content offerings, we are excited to forge this relationship with Tony, Tom, Sanford, Josh and the rest of the exceptional Sony team,” Legendary CEO Joshua Grode said in a statement. “Sony’s commitment to theatrical distribution aligns with our vision of how to best derive the most value for Legendary’s movies. The incredible slate of movies that Mary Parent has amassed are built for the theatrical experience and we are excited about our partnership with Sony for this next phase of Legendary’s growth.”

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“Legendary is, well, legendary and we are excited and fortunate to add Josh and Mary’s strong slate to our ongoing commitment to big movies on the big screen,” Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, said in a statement.

“We are also grateful to Warner Bros. Pictures who has been a valuable partner to Legendary over many years, and we look forward to continuing our work with the talented executives at Warner/Discovery,” Grode stated.

Past Legendary film group releases for both theatrical and streaming include the Academy Award-winning adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal bestseller Dune, Godzilla Vs. Kong, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Enola Holmes and Enola Holmes 2.

Gravitas Ventures Nabs North American Rights to Horror Film ‘The Inhabitant’

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to distribute the horror film The Inhabitant.

Gravitas will release the film in more than 100 theaters Oct. 7. Los Angeles-based sales company Highland Film Group is handling international rights with sales being launched at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Directed by Jerren Lauder (Stay Out of the Attic) and written by Kevin Bachar, the film stars Odessa A’zion, Leslie Bibb, Dermot Mulroney and Lizze Broadway.

The film follows Tara (A’zion), who is like any other teenage girl, just surviving high school, yet her father Ben (Mulroney) and mother Emily (Bibb) seem strangely distant. Amidst a nearby spree of gruesome axe murders, Tara has sightings of terrifying entities, forcing her to question her own sanity and shocking ancestry. After a visit to her aunt in a mental asylum and a night in Lizzie Borden’s actual home, Tara realizes she is inextricably tied to the horrifying curse that has plagued her bloodline for almost a century. As victims pile up and the police close in, Tara is left with no choice but to face her own demons.

“An extraordinary cast and passionate filmmakers came together for Kevin’s chilling script and sparks flew,” producer Leone Marucci said in a statement. “Then our goal was to partner with distributors who were as excited about the film as we were. We found that in Gravitas Ventures and Highland Film Group.”

“This creative team has crafted an incredible horror movie with The Inhabitant, which is not only effective and scary, but constantly engaging and entertaining,” Brett Rogalsky, manager of acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures, said in a statement. “Movies like this are the kind that stay with you long after the credits roll.”

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“We are thrilled to be partnering with the outstanding team at Gravitas Ventures on The Inhabitant,” Highland Film Group CEO Arianne Fraser said in a statement.

“With an overriding theme of female empowerment coupled with a thoroughly modern approach, The Inhabitant will definitely appeal to the younger generation. This is an intense horror film full of suspense and intrigue and is a great addition to our TIFF slate,” added Highland Film Group COO Delphine Perrier.

FilmRise Acquires Rights to Holiday Comedy ‘A Christmas Karen’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired the exclusive worldwide distribution rights, all media, to the holiday-themed comedy A Christmas Karen.

FilmRise will initially release A Christmas Karen to select theaters and digital platforms in North America this November in time for holiday celebrations.

“We look forward to sharing this very clever, comedic twist on Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ with streaming audiences everywhere,” Max Einhorn, SVP, acquisitions and co-productions for FilmRise, said in a statement. “This film represents the type of lighthearted, feel good, funny entertainment we are looking for as we approach the holiday season.” 

Directed by Jon Binkowski and Lisa Enos Smith (Because of Charley), the film tells the story of an entitled egocentric middle-aged woman named Karen. Her demanding and inconsiderate nature has alienated her from her neighbors and family. After a series of instances displaying her privilege and prejudice on Christmas-eve, Karen receives an “intervention” by some unconventional spirits who take her on a journey of self-awareness and self-reflection.

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The film stars Michele Simms (also known as “the over-sharing mom” in the Carvana car TV spots) as Karen, Meghan Colleen Moroney as Jackie, Ashley Jones as Robin, Rolin Alexis as Gary — Ghost of Past, Leyla Lawrence as Joy — Ghost of Present, and Lee Karlinsky as Damon — Ghost of Future, among others.

In statements, Smith said, “Jon and I both agree that while this film shines a harsh light on the lack of civility in our society today; it also illuminates the true grace of redemption for a lost soul” with Binkowski adding, “in a hilarious way.”

Distribution Solutions Inks Distribution Deal With Glass House

Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment, has inked a deal to handle digital and physical sales, distribution, and marketing of Glass House Distribution sellthrough releases in the United States and Canada.

Glass House Distribution has a wide-ranging collection of films and television including comedies “Me, Myself, and Di,” “About Hope,” and “Canadian Strain”; dramas “Skipping Stones,” “Shuttlecock” and “Gutterbug”; horror titles including La Patasola, If She Screams and Infrared Dreams; and thriller, science fiction, family and documentary titles.

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“What Glass House Distribution brings to the table with their extensive catalog of feature films and television has us thrilled to partner in business with them,” Distribution Solutions president Ben Means said in a statement. “They are a company founded by filmmakers, so their depth of knowledge into representing quality film and TV is unparalleled.”

Based in New York and Los Angeles, Glass House was founded by Tom Malloy and Bryan Glass in 2015.

“We’re very excited to work with Distribution Solutions and to be able to allow films to reach more platforms and a bigger audience,” said president and co-founder Malloy.

Distribution Solutions will bow its first Glass House release Jan. 7.

Q&A: MVD’s Ed Seaman Relishes Running and Expanding the Family Business

Ed Seaman is chief operating officer of MVD Entertainment Group, a leading independent distributor of filmed content in a variety of genres, from horror to documentary, with a special emphasis on music.

“Serving artists and audiences” is MVD Entertainment’s purpose statement and has served as a guiding light for Seaman throughout his career. Starting with MVD in 1989, Ed Seaman joined the family business started by his father in 1987, longtime industry veteran Tom Seaman.

Having learned every aspect of the business, by the early 2000s Ed Seaman was running MVD, and transformed it from being primarily a wholesale entity for music videotapes to a traditional full-service audio and video distribution firm, and exponentially grew the business.

Today, MVD exclusively represents a vast catalog of audio and visual content on DVD, Blu-ray, CD, vinyl and digital rights, worldwide. MVD’s customer base consists of major retail chains and digital platforms, along with a strong commitment to independent retailers and digital sites.

Media Play News asked Seaman about MVD’s origins, its footprint in the industry and trends in home entertainment. 

MPN: Tell us about the genesis of MVD and what the company has been known for over the years.

Seaman: MVD is a true “mom and pop” story; my parents started it in their family room in the mid-1980s. My father was in the music business his whole life, and he launched MVD as a wholesaler for music videotapes. My sister Eve Edwards joined in 1988, and I came on board in 1989. In the late 1990s, we converted a number of wholesale relationships to exclusive DVD licensing and distribution deals, and we started seeing real growth, acting at that time as part self-distributed label, and part wholesaler. By the early 2000s, we started offering non-music films, which was a big departure for us — and very early on acquired a strong catalog of digital rights on our content. And by 2006 we entered the audio distribution business — selling both physically and digitally.

MPN: What’s MVD up to now? How does MVD acquire product?

Seaman: Within the last 10 years we’ve grown dramatically; our main focus is exclusively distributing great video and audio labels. We are really proud of our representation of great brands like Arrow Films, Blue Underground, Severin, Synapse, and many more from the film side. We continue to sign content to our own brands (MVD Rewind, MVD Marquee), with our video specialist Eric Wilkinson scouring the earth to find hidden gems. On the music side, it is a similar focus; we have great record labels like Time Life, Bear Family, Made in Germany, and much more. We’ve never lost our interest in music-related films too — it is where we come from and will always hold a special place for us.

MPN: How many titles do you have in your catalog and how many do you generally release each year?

Seaman: A lot … I’d say we release around 75 titles per month on film, and another 150 or so on audio. Our team does a great job evaluating and attacking the opportunities on each release, and focusing on the biggest and best opportunities. We have excellent data systems that help illuminate and execute those opportunities, and we’ve got an amazing dedicated team, many of whom have spent their entire career at MVD.

MPN: What is MVD’s footprint in the digital marketplace on streaming services or digital purchase and rental?

Seaman: We’ve been very progressive all along in the digital landscape with a vast catalog of exclusively distributed content. We have great direct relationships with all the major platforms, both for film and for music, and we are aggressive when it comes to working with new and upcoming services, provided they have a sound model and sound finances. MVD built its own delivery systems for digital video, meaning we don’t go through a lab to get our goods delivered to the vast majority of streaming services. That saves our content providers a lot of resources, and allows us to try out some of the newer services without as much start-up risk.

MPN: How many video labels do you distribute and are you looking for more? What can you offer a label?

Seaman: We have around 30 active video labels — and yes we are ready to welcome more. MVD brings a lot to the table — quick responses and great advice, monthly reliable payments, transparent accounting, including massive visibility through our b2b site, marketing services (which we don’t mark up), possible manufacturing through our replicators (not marked up), and more. Overall, we strive for trade partnerships in our relationships. Our trade partners tell it better than I can at https://mvdentertainment.com/why-mvd/

MPN: What are the trends you are seeing in physical media? What’s the format breakdown?

Seaman: Collectible products given the deluxe treatment is the strongest trend we see. It has to be the right type of film of course with cult-like status, but labels that painstakingly transfer, clean and correct old film to 4K, create and add new content, and beautifully package these films see some great rewards. So, yes, UHD is doing really well, in some cases outselling their Blu-ray companions. The collectors are clearly hungry for well-done UHD.

Distribution Solutions Inks Distribution Deal With Powerhouse Films Label

Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment, has inked a physical media partnership with Powerhouse Films’ U.K.-based label Indicator.

Distribution Solutions will handle sales and distribution of all Powerhouse Films sellthrough releases in the United States and Canada.

The first physical Powerhouse Films releases distributed by Distribution Solutions will be available for purchase in January 2022.

Powerhouse Films has an extensive collection of classic films that includes limited-edition boxed sets and single-title releases, as well as standard-edition reissues of limited-edition titles that have gone out of print, such as John Carpenter’s Christine, Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon and Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie.

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“We are very excited to be in business with Powerhouse Films,” Distribution Solutions president Ben Means said in a statement. “Partnering internationally with a film label like Indicator, which has such a driven passion for physical media, helps expand the quality and coverage of classic films we distribute to the U.S. and Canada.”

“We’re thrilled to be bringing our unique blend of cult and classic cinema to audiences in the U.S. and Canada in partnership with the fantastic team at Distribution Solutions,” Powerhouse Films’ co-founder Sam Dunn said in a statement. “We’ve been working hard unearthing and restoring a raft of incredible titles in order to put together a schedule that will surprise and delight even the most adventurous viewer.”

“Indicator lovingly curates and enshrines obscure, precious gems for the obsessive collector and the genre connoisseur,” award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro said in a statement.

Distribution Solutions in Physical Media Partnership With Vertical

Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment, has entered into a physical media partnership with domestic distributor Vertical Entertainment.

Distribution Solutions will handle trade marketing, procurement, warehousing, inventory management, VMI systems and management, returns processing, credit and collections, and reporting of Vertical physical sellthrough releases in the United States and Canada, and will work hand-in-hand with Vertical partner Mitch Budin, according to Distribution Solutions.

“Partnering with Vertical Entertainment is very exciting for us,” Distribution Solutions president Ben Means said in a statement. “They bring an impressive catalog of over 300 films that we look forward to putting on shelves to maximize the success of their physical releases.”

Notable films from Vertical include Out of Death (starring Bruce Willis) available on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 14 under the agreement, Joe Bell (starring Mark Wahlberg), Four Good Days (starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis), Capone (starring Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, and Matt Dillon) and Ava (starring Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell).

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“We are incredibly pleased to be collaborating with Distribution Solutions on our future projects,” Budin said in a statement. “Ben and the DS team have built a first-class organization and we look forward to working with them to further our footprint in the marketplace.”

Don’t Dis the Disc

The little boy’s eyes lit up. No more than 5, he was the son of a woman who keeps house for a neighbor. She speaks only Spanish; the little fellow is bilingual. He had brought with him three Blu-ray Discs – Bumblebee, How to Train Your Dragon, and the second LEGO Movie – he planned on watching while his mother was working.

I ran back to my house, grabbed a handful of recent movies and presented them to him. He eagerly grabbed the loot and said, “Thank you, thank you,” as my neighbor told me he had purchased the three other discs and given them to the little boy as a present, as well. The family doesn’t have a car, and their shopping is limited to the Mexican grocery store nearby, with an occasional bus ride to Walmart for clothes and other necessities.

“If I was one of your studio friends,” my neighbor said, “I’d get them to put their DVDs and Blu-rays into every little Latino grocery store they can find. So many people do their weekly grocery shops there – and I’m not talking about Spanish-language movies, although I think those would do well too. I’m talking the big hits, the superhero films, the stuff the kids like to watch.”

He makes an interesting point. In the years just before and after the 1997 launch of DVD, independent video stores were summarily dismissed by Hollywood as more trouble than they’re worth. In the final days of the VHS rental business, it was all about getting as many copies of the hits into stores as was possible, through copy-depth incentives, revenue-sharing and other strategies.

And when DVD came around, the studios gladly handed the business over to the mass merchants and big box stores.

Listening to my neighbor, I wonder if it isn’t time to once again go small? I know everyone’s focused on the digital business right now, strategizing how digital movie sales and rentals – known by that catchy industry term “transactional video-on-demand,” or the roll-off-your-tongue acronym “TVOD”-can compete in market increasingly dominated by subscription streaming.

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But let’s not dismiss the disc. Our industry has a habit of burying a product before its time (remember VHS?) and, in the process, leaving lots of money on the proverbial table. There’s still a huge market for Blu-ray Disc and even DVD, and the emergence of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc has generated a whole new fan base of enthusiasts who realize the optimum way to view content is still on a physical disc.

The big box stores have taken note and spruced up their disc sections over the last year or two – particularly Best Buy, which moved discs from the back of the store to a prominent position near the front. Target has end caps with new movies in the main aisle, and at the Walmart near my house clerks are having a hard time keeping new movies in stock.

Studios should take a long, hard look at expanding distribution channels – grocery stores that serve particular ethnic communities, book stores in college towns, sporting goods stores, music stores, you name it.

At this year’s San Diego County Fair, which just ended its month-long run on July 4, one of the busiest booths in the merchant hall was “Must Have Movies,” devoted exclusively to catalog product and dressed up with posters for movies such as The Goonies, Young Frankenstein, Weird Science and The Karate Kid. Apparently the owners travel the fair circuit and, from the looks of things, have built themselves a nice little business.

Yes, home entertainment is evolving. Yes, streaming is the future. And, yes, selling and renting movies electronically, over the Internet, is so much easier than moving physical product because there’s no inventory, no shipping, no returns.

The only problem is, so many customers still want discs.