U’s Feola named pioneer

Franchise Development prexy to receive Video Business award

Universal Pictures Franchise Development president Louis Feola has been chosen the first recipient of the Video Premiere Pioneer Award from Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.

Nod, which recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of movies produced specifically for the homevideo market, will be presented to Feola at the inaugural Video Premiere Awards show Oct. 23 at the El Capitan Theater.

Animated and live-action video premiere films under Feola’s oversight — such as “The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire,” “Beethoven’s 3rd” and “Dragonheart: A New Beginning” — were nominated for awards for last year.

Those films sold a combined 3 million units, according to Video Business research. Including video rentals, the three movies generated $72 million in domestic retail revenue.

Vid pioneer

As president of what was then Universal Studios Home Video, Feola was the most aggressive in pioneering the major movie studios’ charge into producing pics expressly for video back in 1994 with sequels to Steven Spielberg’s theatrical animated hit “The Land Before Time” and a live-action sequel to “Darkman.”

Since then, Universal has released 18 video premiere movies, including sequels to “An American Tail,” “K9” and “Tremors.” The first seven films in the “Land Before Time” franchise alone have generated sales of 50 million units worldwide, repping more than $850 million in retail revenue to the studio. Overall, the domestic video premiere market has generated sales of 27 million units for U, representing nearly $550 million in retail sales.

With studios such as Disney and Warner ramping up to a regular slate of video premiere productions every year and DreamWorks, MGM, Fox and others weighing in sporadically along with the many independent producers, that market now is estimated to have grown to about $1 billion per year. Among the prominent actors who have been involved with video premiere movies in the past year are Pierce Brosnan, Tim Allen, Steven Seagal, Drew Barrymore, Kirsten Dunst, James Caan, Linda Hamilton, Joan Allen and Rod Steiger.

Ice-T pic in works

In addition to new feature-length installments this year in “The Land Before Time,” “Beethoven,” “Tremors” and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical franchises, Feola is overseeing production of several original video premiere movies for next year. Among them is an urban thriller starring Ice-T called “Hood Rat”; “Slap Shot II,” with Stephen Baldwin and Gary Busey; a second video premiere sequel with Jim Belushi called “K-9 P.I.”; the animated “Balto II: The Wolf Quest”; “Skulls 2”; and urban film “Paper Soldiers.”

“It’s an honor to be the first recipient of this award,” Feola said. “The Video Premiere Awards are a testament to the high caliber of artistic work we have achieved both in franchise sequel movies as well as adaptations of musical stage productions.”

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