Robert Baruc

Screen Media gets more selective, aggressive

Company: Screen Media Films

Title: President

Leadership: For the past five years, New York-based Screen Media has enjoyed a nice output arrangement with Universal Studios Home Entertainment, distributing two genre titles a month into the homevid market through the studio.

Over that span, the lucrative business of distributing low-budget movies into the rental market has given way to the more challenging endeavor of trying to sell them in places like Wal-Mart.

This has forced indies like Screen — which also syndicates movie packages on television — to become far more selective in their acquisitions while also getting more aggressive in how they promote their films.

“It’s become increasingly difficult for us to pick up films that we think justify release,” Baruc says. “In today’s sell-through market, it’s more important than ever to have consumer awareness for the movies you release.”

Indeed, given it must put out better movies with well-known cast members and more pre-established buyer awareness anyway, Screen is transforming itself into a theatrical distributor.

To get that done, Baruc has added a marketing guru to the stable while hiring on a consultant and generally “overloading my current staff with more work.”

The company plans to release five films theatrically from August through November.

POV: “We released two films on video last year — ‘Loverboy,’ which was directed by Kevin Bacon, and ‘Sherrybaby,’ with Maggie Gyllenhaal — that were both theatrically released by other companies,” Baruc says. “We felt like we should be distributing these films theatrically ourselves, not relying on other companies.”

See list of profiled execs.

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