Fox, Venevision pact for DVD distrib

Cinema Latino pix debut on video this fall

Fox Home Entertainment has inked a 10-picture deal with Venevision Intl. to release Spanish-language films on DVD and video in the U.S.

Deal includes Mexican pic “La Ley de Herodes” (“Herod’s Law), which is now in U.S. theaters; Mexican comedy “Por la libre” and “Pantaleon y las visitadoras.” Venevision will release the movies theatrically in the U.S. through 2004. The first films will debut on video this fall under the Cinema Latino banner.

Move is part of Fox’s push into the Spanish-language market, which rents and buys more DVDs on average than the general public and spent $4.7 billion on home entertainment in 2002 — 20% of overall spending in the segment — according to industry estimates.

Fox’s En Espanol line, launched last year, now has 60 movies that have been dubbed in Spanish for release on DVD and VHS.

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“In addition to strengthening our leadership position in the Hispanic market, this deal with Venevision is a home run on many strategic levels,” said Fox Home Entertainment president Mike Dunn. “First, these are entertaining films with tremendous crossover appeal that just happen be in Spanish. And, given our extremely proactive role in developing our Spanish language business, we will now have acclaimed native tongue entertainment to make available to our consumers.”

“Our agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is critical to our efforts in developing the market for Spanish-language films in the U.S,” said Venevision president Luis Villanueva. “We believe that all filmgoing audiences should have access to one of the most innovative and imaginative segments of the international film industry and one with proven box office successes.”

(Jennifer Netherby is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.)