IDT Entertainment slotted the last building block in place to become a vertically integrated company last month when it acquired home video and DVD distribution company Anchor Bay Entertainment Group for US$60 million. One of the largest independent video distributors in the U.S., Anchor Bay boasts a rights library of more than 3,500 properties, including popular HIT Entertainment kids franchise Thomas the Tank Engine. IDT will maintain the existing management structure of Anchor Bay, but bring in former Sony Wonder CEO Ted Green to head the company.
With the DVD market exploding right now – at press time before the holidays, U.S. DVD sales for 2003 were expected to be up by 36% over 2002, according to Adams Media Research – home entertainment is certainly a solid expansion prospect right now. ‘We plan to increase the slate of properties in all genres that Anchor Bay is currently marketing, as well as aggressively approaching new and emerging points of sale,’ says IDT Entertainment CEO Morris Berger, adding that his company will be looking closely at on-line and direct-to-consumer retail routes, as well as keeping an eye on developing technology for video-on-demand.
In addition to growing and maximizing Anchor Bay’s portfolio of licenses, IDT will use the AB infrastructure to take its own entertainment projects direct-to-video.
Though IDT (which was called Digital Production Solutions until November 2003) has only been around for two years, it has already acquired Simpsons shop Film Roman and Vancouver, Canada-based animation studio Mainframe Entertainment. In July 2003, DPS entered into a partnership agreement with Vanguard Animation to co-produce and co-own all Vanguard properties, including four CGI features for Disney. The first film, Valiant, is currently in production and slated for completion in early 2005.
Editor’s note: The electronic version of this article has been edited from the original print version in order to correct or clarify some information that it contained.