Clicking on catalog

Corman's Concorde ditches rental strategy

Roger Corman’s New Concorde Home Entertainment is taking itself out of the new-release rental game to focus entirely on sell-through of its sizable film catalog.

Move, which comes less than a week after New Concorde’s participation in the National Assn. of Video Distributors conference, sparked speculation the company and its library are for sale.

Some prospective buyers including MGM have held preliminary talks with New Concorde about the possible acquisition of its 400-title library.

“We’ve always been for sale,” said Gary Jones, New Concorde’s president of home entertainment. “It’s safe to say that Roger (Corman) is always open to a good offer.”

The company’s move to library-only releasing simply reflects market changes that make pricing for new-release rentals less profitable, he added.

“All we’re doing is converting ourselves to a budget DVD company,” Jones said. “We want to focus on the exploitation of our catalog rather than divert resources to sell new product.”

New Concorde will complete production on at least three current projects, including actioner “Rage and Discipline.” However, the company would try to sell off distribution rights to its “Dinocroc” franchise and some other titles in post-production if a library sale can be secured.

Although New Concorde is halting further production or acquisitions, Corman might make movies outside the company, officials said.

A writer and producer known for his low-budget cult films, Corman formed New Concorde predecessor Concorde/New Horizon in 1983 after selling New World Pictures, an independent film company.

New Concorde’s library skews toward low-budget action and creature pics with big names attached. Titles include “The Arena” and “The Big Bird Cage,” starring Pam Grier; the 1978 creature feature “Piranha,” penned by John Sayles; “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” featuring the Ramones; and the 1975 sci-fi action movie “Death Race 2000,” starring Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine.

Company recently was approached by Cruise/Wagner Prods. about a potential remake of “Death Race 2000,” said New Concorde marketing head Lars Canty. If a deal can be sealed, C/W would handle production; New Concorde would retain franchise rights.

Historically, New Concorde’s movies have sold well internationally, a factor that could play a role in any potential sale of its catalog.

(Simone Kaplan is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.)