Lion pulls overseas distribs into den

Studio began self-distribution in the U.S. in 2000

MGM Home Entertainment said Tuesday it has reclaimed full control of video distribution in Australia, France, Germany and the U.K., putting the company in control of 75% of its international sales, marketing and distribution.

Last year, MGM took back distribution from Warner Home Video in Canada. During its quarterly conference call with investors this month, the company said it would be taking more control of its international video distribution, now handled by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“This puts us in an excellent position to fully leverage our film and television library as well as MGM’s new film and TV content,” MGM Home Entertainment Group president and chief operating officer David Bishop said in a statement.

MGM in 2000 began self-distribution in the U.S., ending a decadelong U.S. distribution deal with Warner. The studio paid Warner $225 million and relinquished the video distribution rights early to nearly 1,000 pre-1986 MGM titles to extricate itself from that deal.

Under its contract with Fox, MGM had the option to reclaim back-room distribution functions. MGM and Fox are in negotiations for a new distribution agreement to cover MGM titles in remaining international territories.

“As our distribution partner, Fox has been particularly supportive of our international strategy from the outset, knowing our intention all along was to expand MGM’s self-distribution operations,” Bishop said.

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

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