Increased acquisition plans are afoot at Paramount Home Video, as the studio’s acquisitions staff combs international film fests for ‘brandable, franchisable’ product, says Ellen Pittleman, VP of worldwide acquisitions. The division’s slate of direct-to-videos ballooned from one title last year to six this year. Included on the project list is the recently re-dubbed The Real Macaw, a US$440,000-grossing Australian film for which Paramount acquired North American distribution rights.
The acquisition was made by Pittleman, who was hired a year ago to pick up kid- and family-targeted product for the U.S. and international markets. ‘[Paramount] has always acquired [family] properties,’ she notes. ‘The key now is that there is no limit to the number I can acquire-I’m interested in anything I think is marketable.’
Pittleman attributes Paramount’s increased activity in sell-through to the fact that the studio distributes all of Nickelodeon’s product, including upcoming video releases The Rugrats Movie, Blue’s Clues and Animorphs. The Nick coup represents an enormous gain in revenue, as well as resulting in flourishing kids and family distribution streams. Other new sell-though franchises include Little Bear and Donkey Kong. Existing TV franchises will be released as repackaged episodes, but some may eventually be developed as original DTV features, says Pittleman.
Preschool will be a major acquisition and sell-through production focus for Paramount, due to generally healthy sales in the category. As far as original productions go, Charlotte’s Web epitomizes the type of franchise the studio seeks to license, as it is considered extremely marketable due to the marquee value of the book property.
The Real Macaw, aimed at the six to 10 demo, appealed to the studio because of its proven box office success in Australia. ‘I thought the movie was well made and had a fresh concept-something kids would respond to,’ says Pittleman.