The new owners of Miramax Films, focusing on one of its key assets, signed Lionsgate and Studiocanal to distribute the independent studio's library of more than 550 titles in the home entertainment market.
Under a multi-year agreement announced Friday, Santa Monica studio Lionsgate and Paris film company Studiocanal will handle release of Miramax's movies on DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms.
Lionsgate will distribute the titles, which include "Shakespeare in Love," "Kill Bill" and "Good Will Hunting" in the U.S. and Canada. Studiocanal will handle their release in Europe except Britain, where the two companies will work together. Lionsgate will license the titles in other countries.
Securing distributors for the Miramax library has been a priority for Chief Executive Mike Lang, who took over when a consortium of owners led by Colony Capital and Ron Tutor bought Miramax from Walt Disney Co. in December.
"We met with everybody in the industry and we believe Lionsgate is not only a great organization, but was going to be the most aggressive with our library," he said.
Miramax and Lionsgate will jointly oversee Internet video on demand, where Lang has experience. Miramax will facilitate distribution for television, pay cable and online subscription services such as Netflix. Until Miramax begins producing new films, the studio's library is its primary revenue generator, making the selection of home entertainment partners crucial to its future.
Lionsgate has been looking to add titles to its library of more than 13,000 movies and TV show episodes through potential acquisitions and mergers. Lang said that Disney had not focused on Miramax titles in the last few years, particularly since the unit was put up for sale in early 2010, leaving plenty of value yet to be realized.
"We could see that this library has not been aggressively managed recently," said Lionsgate home entertainment chief Steve Beeks. "There's a lot of low-hanging fruit."
The first release will be the Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy "The Switch," a box-office dud released by Disney for Miramax in August. Lionsgate and Studiocanal will put out the movie on DVD and digital platforms March 15. The following month, when Weinstein Co. releases "Scream 4" in theaters, Lionsgate will re-release the first three movies in the horror-comedy franchise, which are owned by Miramax.