Indie drivers speed growth

<I>Variety</I> profiles 15 execs revving suppliers' revenue

The race between indie suppliers used to be wide open, with dozens of small labels quietly earning a good living in what was a rental-dominated homevid market.

But as the business of selling DVDs displaced that of renting videotapes, independent suppliers could no longer run on a less rich mixture of funds, relying on nothing more than compelling box art to get low-budget action movies and star-studded Pilates workout tapes rented at Blockbuster.

“Working in a sell-through market, you have to have films that the customer recognizes,” explains Screen Media topper Robert Baruc. “Whether you’re charging $9.99 for a movie or $19.99, it’s a bigger commitment than a $2.50 rental. There has to be some hook that gets the customer to say, ‘I want to buy this.’ ”

For this reason, Baruc is leading his company into theatrical distribution, hoping that limited release windows will give its pics more consumer recognition.

Certainly, other growth-minded indies are thinking the same thing, as a wave of mergers and acquisitions unfolds.

Over the last few years, distribs like Genius Products and First Look have acquired sophisticated inventory management infrastructure — and with that, the wherewithal to put a number of smaller labels under their distribution umbrellas.

And then there’s the biggest indie of them all, Lionsgate, which has amassed a library of 11,000 titles at a time when the biz is moving into distribution models not constrained by brick-and-mortar inventory.

Daily Variety profiles 15 execs who are driving — or have already driven — their indies to become mini-majors.

Joe Amodei

Steve Beeks & Ron Schwartz

Robert Baruc

Tim Clott

Bill Clark

Mark Cuban & Randy Wells

Trevor Drinkwater

Cheryl Freeman

Martin Greenwald & David Borshell

Tom O’Malley

Jeff Sackman

Dean Wilson

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