Film distributor Entertainment One is moving quickly to become a key player in the Canadian biz, inking a deal on Friday to acquire Montreal-based Seville Ent., a midsized Canuck film and TV distribution company, for an undisclosed sum.
Deal comes in time for the Toronto Film Festival, which kicks off Sept. 6, as recently minted prexy Patrice Theroux has big plans for the fest.
“We are coming into the Toronto Film Festival with strong financial backing and an eye to buying films with our U.K., Canadian and U.S. companies,” he said. “There is tremendous organic growth opportunity now in Canada.”
In addition to opening a Toronto office and adding at least 24 films to the release slate, Theroux plans to expand international TV distribution, with a focus on longform drama and children’s animation.
He said also that Toronto-based Entertainment One is still looking to make more acquisitions in Canada and abroad.
The move puts Theroux into competition with Motion Picture Distribution, Canada’s largest independent distributor, and Theroux’s longtime employer until a year ago. Formerly an income trust controlled by Alliance Atlantis Communications, MPD is now controlled, pending Heritage Canada approvals, by Toronto-based EdgeStone Capital Partners and Goldman Sachs.
A previously low-profile company that had been active primarily in the DVD distribution biz in Canada and music and video distribution in the U.S., Entertainment One entered international distribution with a bang in July with the acquisition of Contender in the U.K. and, shortly thereafter, the appointment of Theroux, a well-known fixture of the Canadian biz, as prexy of its new distribution division.
The company, listed on the London Stock Exchange, is well capitalized, with revenue last year of about C$630 million ($594 million).
Seville Pictures handles about 30 releases in Canada per year and five to 10 internationally. It has Canadian distribution rights to more than 500 features, including worldwide rights to “The Decline of the American Empire” and kids’ TV series “Mighty Machines.”
Upcoming releases include “Bluff,” which opens the Montreal World Film Fest on Thursday, as well as “Shake Hands With the Devil” and “Emotional Arithmetic,” both of which unspool in Toronto.