Lionsgate, StudioCanal to release library titles

Miramax has partnered with Lionsgate and StudioCanal to distribute more than 550 Miramax titles on home entertainment platforms worldwide.

The multi-year partnership, announced Friday, covers titles such as “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,” “Chicago” and “Good Will Hunting” for release on Blu-ray, DVD, EST, Internet VOD and cable VOD internationally.

“I think we always were hopeful that we would find one or two companies to take on home entertainment,” said Miramax CEO Mike Lang.

Jennifer Aniston-Jason Bateman starrer “The Switch” will be the first release under the partnership. Pic will be available on multiple platforms in the U.S. on March 15.

“The Miramax library will be one of the most treasured jewels in our home entertainment crown,” said Lionsgate prexy and co-chief operating officer Steve Beeks in a statement.

Lionsgate will distribute the titles in the U.S. and work with StudioCanal to release the films in the U.K. StudioCanal will handle European distribution while Lionsgate will partner with third parties for the rest of the world.

Disney will continue to handle physical distribution of catalog titles until the transition to Lionsgate and StudioCanal is completed over the next few months. Lang would not comment on whether the two companies had made a minimum guarantee on the new pact.

Deal allows the new iteration of Miramax to begin generating revenues from the library amassed when the company was a division of Disney headed by the Weinsteins. The library hasn’t been exploited significantly in recent years on Blu-Ray or digital platforms.

Company is still in the process of building its staff, with Lang estimating that Miramax will bring 50 people on board by the end of this year.

Pact comes two months after a consortium of owners led by Colony Capital and Ron Tutor bought Miramax from Walt Disney Co.

For Lionsgate, the partnership adds a number of highly recognizable titles to its library, which contains more than 13,000 films and TV episodes including the Tyler Perry comedies as well as such pics as “Basic Instinct,” “Crash” and “Precious.” The minimajor attempted unsuccessfully last year to merge with MGM in a deal that would have added some 4,000 titles from the MGM library.

A person with knowledge of the homevideo biz indicated the Miramax titles, which include a significant number of Oscar winners, are viewed by Lionsgate execs as being especially complementary to its current library.

Homevideo has been a strong performer for Lionsgate. The company reported Wednesday a net loss in the third quarter ended Dec. 31, in part due to the nearly $8 million in costs it incurred fighting a takeover attempt by Carl Icahn, but noted that strong DVD sales, mainly for “The Expendables,” helped drive its overall revenue increases.

Third-quarter home entertainment revenue jumped 63% to $174 million. In addition to “The Expendables,” the release of Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family” boosted DVD sales.

Miramax recently partnered with The Weinstein Company to produce sequels to films including “Shakespeare in Love,” “Rounders” and “Bad Santa.” Lang said sequels co-financed with TWC would most likely not be subject to the new deal.

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