Duo pact for home entertainment distrib in Russia

Universal Pictures Intl. and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have reached a three-year deal under which Fox will distribute the entire UPIE homevid product slate in Russia.

Beginning in August, Fox will deliver film and TV product from Universal and UPIE partners on DVD and Blu-ray. Fox will also oversee operations, finance, sales and marketing.

First U pics to be distributed include “Fast Five,” “Hop” and “Bridesmaids.”

Fox Intl. will also launch a massive and simultaneous antipiracy effort called “Quality Matters” in the country, which will include split-screen TV ads comparing pirated films to the authentic version.

“Our real competitor in Russia is piracy,” said Keith Feldman, prexy of Fox Home Entertainment Intl. “We’re launching this campaign independent of the Universal partnership, but with Universal now as a partner, we hope it’s going to bring greater weight and greater scale to the overall initiative.”

Fox declined to say how much the company would spend on the initiative, which also includes an authentication system for each disc. Sources say that Fox will have to spend triple the usual amount on a homevideo release. Fox Intl.’s initiative with U aims to capitalize on the gap between Russia’s appetite for theatrical and homevideo product. Russia ranks in the top 10 for theatrical territories but only 15th in home entertainment spending, according to Feldman.

Pact will not affect NBCUniversal’s other Russian-based businesses, which include Universal Pictures Intl. Russia, NBCUniversal Intl. Television Distribution and Universal Networks Intl.

Earlier this month, Fox announced the launch of Fox World Cinema, an initiative to bring foreign films to the U.S. Studio is an active player in the international market and holds the top market share in Russia.

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