VCL munches Danish distrib Scanbox

$2.5 mil deal to be paid mostly in conglom's stock

Datty Ruth’s Munich-based media company VCL Film and Medien has acquired 100% of Danish distributor Scanbox Entertainment. VCL and Scanbox shareholders approved the deal last week.

Cost of the $2.5 million acquisition will be paid mostly in VCL stock, valued at $17 per share for the purpose of this deal.

With a 14% market share, Scanbox is Denmark’s leading independent distrib. It holds theatrical rights to about 1,100 titles, often with DVD and video rights.

Purchase also gives VCL a majority stake in Australian distrib Scanbox Asia/Pacific, which owns U.S. video label Studio Home Entertainment in a 50-50 partnership with Lions Gate Entertainment.

Deal marks VCL’s first decisive step into European distribution in a move that will enable VCL to increasingly look at buying world rights on titles.

Ruth told Daily Variety that VCL plans to acquire other distribs and move into distribution throughout Europe. But he added that his ambitions stop short of actually starting his own distribution company.

If the companies that VCL acquires “have proved to be the leader, there is no reason for me to show them how to do their business,” Ruth said. “Overnight success takes 10 years.”

VCL will commission foreign sales companies to sell off rights in territories where VCL does not have a distribution arm.

In recent months, VCL has made a three-pic deal with Woody Allen, a 10-title pact (in partnership with Capitol Films) with Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope and a 12-title deal with producer Steven Paul’s Crystal Sky. It has also taken a 25% stake in the next two “Terminator” sequels.

Early next year, VCL plans to launch a German TV channel that Ruth describes as “MTV for the film industry.” Outlet would provide entertainment news much as E! Entertainment does Stateside.

Gordon Steel at the Steel Co. serves as VCL’s worldwide strategic adviser.