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Genius has library card

Distrib co. to acquire film, TV archives

Genius Products has finalized its nearly $16 million deal to acquire American Vantage Media Corp. and its library of 750 film and TV titles and 800 shorts from AVMC’s Wellspring Media.

AVMC CEO Stephen K. Bannon becomes co-chairman of Genius, with Ryan Werner, who leads AVMC’s theatrical releasing division, and AVMC’s Marie Therese Guirgis, who directs AVMC’s film acquisition group, continuing in their respective roles.

Genius, which produces and distributes entertainment programming to homevideo retailers, broadcast and cable outlets, specialty theater chains and a direct mail catalog, has specialized in branding public domain content into inexpensive DVD lines such as its classic TV Guide and AMC lines. Wellspring’s library includes esoteric specialty video programs as well as recent indie film festival favorites such as “Tarnation” and “Red Lights,” the latter of which debuts on DVD this week.

Recent pacts

In November, Genius struck a content deal with online film company iFilm, and Sundance Channel Home Entertainment announced it would license films to Genius for DVD distribution. Fresh titles from both pacts are slated to roll out throughout 2005.

“The transaction exemplifies the type of strategic acquisitions we plan to pursue in the future, as we remain fully focused on expanding our portfolio of brands, library of proprietary content and leveraging our overhead,” Genius CEO Trevor Drinkwater said.

The transaction adds significantly to the company’s revenue base and will generate more cash flow and margin as the titles are released and re-released in multiple formats.

AVMC, with revenues of approximately $20 million in 2004 including about $13 million from its library operations, also has an interest in the “The OC” TV series and certain other assets.

The transaction consideration includes 7 million shares of Genius Products’ common stock and five-year warrants to purchase 1.4 million Genius Products, half at an exercise price of $2.56 per share and half at an exercise price of $2.78 per share, plus the assumption of certain liabilities.

(Susanne Ault is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication DVD Exclusive.)

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