Homevideo distributor gets theatrical

Homevid distributor Screen Media Films is getting into the theatrical game, debuting a distribution arm at Sundance.

Company’s first release will be “Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas,” a comedy starring Patrick Fugit (“Almost Famous”) and produced by Paul and Chris Weitz. Screen Media will release film to theaters in May.

Screen Media prexy Robert Baruc will run the unit, while senior veep of acquisitions Suzanne Blech will concentrate on buying titles.

Consultant Steve Fagan has been brought on to advise on theatrical distribution, while Leigh Simons has been hired to head marketing for the new division.

Screen Media has a 24-title annual output deal with Universal Home Entertainment. Baruc said it could use up to six of those slots for theatrical releases.

Firm will be combing Sundance for theatrical acquisitions, possibly in the docu category, Baruc said.

Screen Media has been mainly known for homevid releases, though it has pacted with theatrical distribs to release movies like the Kevin Bacon-helmed “Loverboy.”

Baruc said the shift in the homevid market from rentals to sales has meant awareness — especially the kind that comes from theatrical releases — has become more important.

Baruc said the model for its acquisitions is “Sherrybaby,” the acquisition of IFC and Netflix’s Red Envelope that has garnered awards attention for Maggie Gyllenhaal. That movie had a platform theatrical release that drew media attention and helped drive homevid for Screen Media, which distributed pic to retailers.

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