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First Look drives to Ventura for $20 mil

Studio nabs distrib company, facilities

First Look Studios will acquire DVD distrib Ventura Distribution for an estimated $20 million.

Financial details were not disclosed.

The two companies have complementary strengths. Ventura, which distributes about 7,000 titles for 60-plus labels, specializes in physical distribution of packaged media, while First Look is the stronger name in independent film.

First Look has been in growth spurt mode for some time. It acquired DEJ Prods., which co-financed Academy Award winner “Crash,” for $25 million in November, after merging with indie TV DVD specialist Capital Entertainment in August.

“We’ve acquired these assets, along with the Ventura brand name, because of the respect they command in the marketplace,” First Look Studios CEO Henry Winterstern said. “This marks another step in the growth of First Look as it continues to become a fully vertically integrated studio.”

Ventura will continue as Ventura Home Entertainment, a First Look subsid headed by prexy Larry Hayes, Ventura’s founder and current CEO.

Ventura already distributes a number of First Look’s titles to retail, and that arrangement should continue. As part of the deal, First Look will acquire Ventura’s state-of-the-art Thousand Oaks distribution/warehouse facility, built in 2004, and the company’s network of computerized vendor management systems, where the distributor tracks its inventory for major retail chains.