Codeblack Films has signed its first foreign output deal, a pact with Times Media Films to distribute its movies in South Africa. As part of the agreement, the company’s hit erotic drama “Addicted” will premiere in the African country next February.
It’s a sign that Codeblack, a company that has been wholly focused on the domestic marketplace, is beginning to look for opportunities abroad. The division of Lionsgate focuses on creating lower-budget films that target African-American audiences, such as “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete” with Jennifer Hudson and the stand-up comedy film “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain.”
Times Media is one of South Africa’s largest distributors, controlling nearly 50% of the exhibition market, and has deals with other major studios such as Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox.
Codeblack’s titles have been cost effective to produce because the audience for its films was thought to be virtually non-existent overseas. The sense is that these films must make all of their money stateside in order to be profitable. However, Codeblack has seen a great deal of social media activity and YouTube views in South Africa for its content and in other countries such as the United Kingdom, which made the company think those perceptions might be false.
“There is a significant audience over there that is looking for African-American content,” said Jeff Clanagan, Codeblack’s president and founder. “Through social media and grassroots strategy we’re going to work with our partners to build these markets.”
The Codeblack pact contains guarantees for five pictures and a mid-six figure guarantee for each picture that is distributed. The company is investigating possible output deals in other foreign countries and will be at the American Film Market next month. That’s the first time the company has been active at the Santa Monica-based market, a hot spot for foreign sales companies.
“We’re going to take our time and take one or two markets at a time,” said Clanagan. “There is a business for these films.”
The output deal with Times Media was negotiated by Codeblack exec VP Quincy Newell.