Hallmark, Live subsid ink vid distrib’n deal

Family Home Entertainment, a subsidiary of Live Entertainment, has inked a long-term domestic distribution deal with Hallmark Home Entertainment.

Under the agreement, FHE will provide Hallmark with sales, creative services, accounting, fulfillment, customer service and other operational support for its domestic homevideo activities.

At the same time, it was announced that Hallmark Home Entertainment president Steve Beeks and senior VP Glenn Ross will join Live Home Entertainment in January as president and exec VP, respectively.

Both men will report to Live Entertainment president Amir Malin. Jeffrey Fink, Live’s current head of sales and distribution, will continue to serve as exec VP.

Hallmark Home Entertainment will remain a separate company handling its own marketing, merchandising, manufacturing, promotion and publicity.

The deal will allow Hallmark to reduce overhead while giving it the benefit of Live’s much larger sales force, said Beeks. “In the current marketplace, you really need a bigger presence in terms of your relationships with retailers,” he said.

Live, which is trying to reposition itself as a theatrical motion picture company, will benefit from the additional cash flow provided by the deal, particularly in the area of family sell-through product.

Hallmark product covered by the deal includes the newly launched “Crayola Presents Animated Tales” and “Crayola Kids Adventures” lines as well as more adult made-for-TV fare such as “Gulliver’s Travels” and “The Odyssey.”

Live CEO Mark Curcio said he believed the deal was only the first in a series that would allow Live to expand its presence in the independent video and DVD landscape.

Live has so far been unsuccessful in its bids to acquire distribution rights to film libraries, including the Ciby 2000 and Epic catalogs.

Hallmark’s catalog includes over 600 titles from the Rank Films and Goldwyn libraries, ranging from “Wuthering Heights” to “La Femme Nikita,” as well as recent October Films releases including “Breaking the Waves.”

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