Doctorow to head unit

Fox has created a new lair for the Lion.

Former Paramount homevideo prexy Eric Doctorow has been tapped to head a dedicated MGM homevid unit on the Fox lot. Unit, unprecedented in its concentration on a rival studio’s offerings, is gearing up for Sept. 1, when Fox officially begins distributing MGM’s video offerings domestically as well as internationally.

Sony had been distributing MGM homevid Stateside, but in May the consortium that bought out the Lion voted to shift domestic homevid to Fox. Sony went to great lengths to integrate MGM product into its marketing strategy, but that seemed to blur the MGM brand, and in any event, Lion catalog sales sagged under the one-year arrangement.

MGM chief operating officer Rick Sands characterized the new strategy — one both studios hammered out — as less a statement about the way Sony handled the MGM library than a reflection of a desire to figure out a better way to maximize it.

“We were trying to figure out a way to build a better mousetrap,” Sands said. “You need to constantly look for new ways to adjust to the marketplace.”

Fox also will market MGM’s new theatrical and direct-to-vid fare on disc as those pipelines gear up. The Lion plans to produce a dozen direct-to-vid titles annually and is gearing up its TV production as well.

“We all see that there’s a great opportunity to revitalize the brand, and that’s what we’re going to focus on,” said Doctorow, a 20-year veteran of Par who ankled three years ago, having most recently served as chief operating officer for Ventura Entertainment.

“It’s all about the brand,” Sands said. “The reason we created this structure was to protect the MGM brand.”

Fox also distributes product for Lionsgate, Lucasfilm and Hit Entertainment but has never created a separate department dedicated to another studio’s offerings. Even DreamWorks handled its own homevid marketing under its former distribution deal with Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

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