Film Distributor Kino Lorber Acquires International TV Series Streamer

Kino Lorber on Nov. 3 announced its acquisition of global media company MHz Networks, parent of streamer MHz Choice, a leading North American SVOD service dedicated to international television series.

The newly combined company, Kino Lorber Media Group LLC, now has over 5,000 titles comprising more than 10,000 hours of programming under license, making it a top North American destination for international series and movies. The acquisition of MHz Choice marks Kino Lorber’s latest, and largest, expansion into the streaming marketplace.

“MHz’s track record of curating best-in-class series from around the world has helped it build one of the most loyal subscriber audiences in streaming,” said Kino Lorber president and CEO Richard Lorber. “At a time when Hollywood mega-streamers are going bigger and broader, we like the idea of going deeper into specialized content to super-serve the most discerning audiences. Our highly curated approach helps us stand out from other streamers, and makes MHz Choice the perfect companion platform for audiences seeking prestige entertainment in an accessible way.”

“Kino Lorber is the perfect fit to help take MHz to the next level,” said MHz Networks founder and CEO Frederick Thomas. “Their extensive library of new and classic international films will add an exciting dimension for our current and future subscribers.”

MHz Networks began as an extension of American Public Broadcasting, with an initial television lineup consisting of international news, documentaries, foreign films, and serialized content. The company was one of the earliest entrants to the boutique streaming arena with the launch of the SVOD service MHz Choice in 2015, converting on-air buyers of DVDs of its international TV programming into a large and loyal digital subscriber base. 

Popular series include “A French Village,” “Wallander,” “Murder In…,” “Detective Montalbano,” “Beck,” and, most recently, “Paris Police 1900.”

MHz Choice’s upcoming releases include the German kidnapping drama “Enemies,” the Bordeaux-set detective series “Mongeville,” the retro French comedy “Cheeky Business,” the female-led Italian crime dramas “Petra” and “Voiceless,” and the dark family drama “Waterfront,” MHz Choice’s first series from South Africa. The entire staff of both MHz Networks and Kino Lorber will remain in place, with CEO Thomas and SVP of content strategy Lance Schwulst continuing to lead MHz Networks within the Kino Lorber Media Group.

Kino Lorber has been known for decades for its extensive home video library and theatrical releases of celebrated art-house films, garnering seven Academy Awards nominations in 10 years and myriad other accolades. In 2019, the company first expanded into digital with the launch of its TVOD service Kino Now, which Indiewire called “the art-house iTunes,” offering more than 1,500 curated films from its library for digital rental or purchase.

The following year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company launched a “virtual cinema” offering, Kino Marquee, which provided a lifeline for independent art-house theaters in providing a vehicle for digital revenues while movie theaters were physically shuttered. For this pioneering effort, Kino Lorber was honored with a Special Award from the New York Film Critics Circle.

In 2021, Kino Lorber entered the AVOD arena with the launch of its first free channel, Kino Cult, which specializes in new and rare genre films. The company has since expanded in AVOD with the recent launch of its own Kino Lorber channel on YouTube, offering a revolving selection of hundreds of popular art-house hits from its core library built up over 40 years. The acquisition of MHz Choice represents Kino Lorber’s largest acquisition since the 2009 merger of Kino International and Lorber HT Digital, as well as its biggest expansion into streaming to date as part of its efforts to further embrace digital as a core part of its distribution strategy.

Kino Lorber Appoints New PR Chief

David Ninh has joined arthouse film distributor Kino Lorber as director of press and publicity, the company announced April 17. He starts April 23. Ninh will report to Wendy Lidell, Kino Lorber’s SVP of theatrical and non-theatrical distribution and acquisitions, and CEO Richard Lorber (for corporate communications).

Ninh previously worked at Kickstarter as senior communications specialist overseeing press and publicity outreach for crowdfunding company’s Film and Arts & Culture categories (including Art, Performance, Publishing, Music, Food and LGBTQ communities). He also worked on company launches such Kickstarter’s DRIP funding subscription tool for creators and helped manage the company’s partnership with the Sundance Institute to collaborate with filmmakers on launching campaigns. As Kickstarter’s first film media relations executive he advised filmmakers, artists and creators on engaging and building community during the initial funding stages of many notable film and arts projects.

Before Kickstarter, Ninh spent four years at the Film Society of Lincoln Center as a member of the publicity team, promoting the organization’s year-round programming, theatrical new releases and repertory programming. He worked on the organization’s film festivals, including the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films, and led press initiatives for special retrospective film series such as “Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?” and “Foxy, the Complete Pam Grier.”

Prior to his tenure at Lincoln Center, Ninh was an account executive at PMK-BNC, working on major national media and corporate accounts. Earlier, he was an entertainment and style staff writer for The Dallas Morning News.

Kino Lorber recently opened Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, Rüdiger Suchsland’s Hitler’s Hollywood, Bill Gunn’s restoration of Personal Problems, and Rachel Israel’s Keep the Change.

With a library of 2,000 titles, Kino Lorber has been a leader in independent art- house distribution for 35 years, releasing over 30 films per year theatrically under its Kino Lorber, Kino Classics, Zeitgeist and Alive Mind Cinema banners. In addition, the company brings more than 350 titles annually to the home entertainment and educational markets through disc and digital media releases. Kino Lorber handles releases in ancillary media for Zeitgeist Films, Carlotta USA, Adopt Films, Raro Video, and others, placing physical titles through all wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer channels as well as direct distribution to all major and many new VOD platforms.