Image finally dives into pickup fray

Rights acquired to 'Girl,' Alive'

After years of trying, Image Entertainment has sewn up theatrical rights for a pair of features from Odd Lot Entertainment, though it has already decided that one of them will bypass the bigscreen for homevideo.

Image acquired U.S. theatrical and homevideo rights to Odd Lot’s Sarah Michelle Gellar starrer “Suburban Girl” and comedic Western “Undead or Alive.” Deal also includes non-broadcast digital rights.

Image plans to release “Undead or Alive” on disc in December, with “Suburban Girl” skedded to bow sometime next year. Odd Lot and Image are still determining whether to give “Suburban Girl” a theatrical bow.

Image, known for its quirky DVD library and comedy productions, expects to complete its merger with BTP Acquisition Group, an investor group led by David Bergstein, by the end of October. BTP already owns Capitol Films and ThinkFilm.

In “Suburban Girl,” a romantic comedy based on two short stories from Melissa Bank’s 1999 book “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” Gellar plays an ambitious editor seduced by a powerful publisher (Alec Baldwin). Written and directed by Marc Klein, pic at one time was to be co-financed by Warner Independent (Daily Variety, Oct. 12, 2004). It was produced by Odd Lot in association with Catch 23 Prods.

“Suburban Girl” has played the fest circuit, including Tribeca this year.

“Undead or Alive” stars James Denton as a Union soldier who hooks up with a heartbroken cowboy (Chris Kattan) to rob a sheriff, and then must contend with a plague of zombies. Written and directed by “South Park” scribe Glasgow Phillips, it was produced by Odd Lot’s Deborah Del Prete and Gigi Pritzker, along with David Greathouse.

Image has been on a mission to step up to the theatrical arena for several years. The company began developing productions on its own then inked a 10-year output deal with Relativity Media to cover theatrical fare not covered by studio finance packages (Daily Variety, Aug. 14, 2006). However, that deal, which was to funnel up to 20 pics annually to Image, has yet to bear any fruit.

“Image is officially in the feature film acquisition game,” said David Borshell, Image chief operating officer. “I hope our friends at Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co. are ready for some friendly competition.”

Image fended off a hostile takeover attempt by Lionsgate last year.

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