Anchor Bay shores up pix

First release is Van Bebber's 'Manson Family'

LONDON — DVD distrib Anchor Bay Entertainment U.K. is moving into theatrical releases, kicking off with four horror titles similar to those that have made its DVD sales a success.

First release will be Jim Van Bebber’s “The Manson Family” on July 23, which will have a limited release (in London’s West End) due to the graphic material. Pic is a mockumentary based on the “discovery” of unseen footage of mass murderer Charles Manson’s violent escapades.

The other three releases — Tobe Hooper’s horror remake “The Toolbox Murders,” Australian zombie pic “Undead” and the Bruce Campbell starrer “Bubba Ho-tep” from helmer Don Coscarelli (“Phantasm” series) — will all go wide.

The move will sit well with the group’s upcoming DVD rollouts, which include an eight-disc “Halloween” box set and Wes Craven box, but ABE U.K. says the theatrical venture is more than a marketing platform.

“We will promote our theatrical releases in their own right and are planning nationwide releases in almost every case,” ABE U.K. managing director Mo Claridge said.

The group is also launching a children’s DVD range to exploit synergies with parent company IDT.

Last year, telco IDT purchased ABE and Film Roman, the animation company responsible for “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill.”

The two will now be married to form Anchor Bay Kids, which will include animated titles “Evolution,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Street Sharks” and “Inspector Gadget.”

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