EXCLUSIVE: The focus on Harvey Weinstein recently has been his heavy-handed Oscar lobbying for Inglourious Basterds and his uphill battle to reclaim the Miramax name and film library. But the behind-the-scenes restructuring effort continues for The Weinstein Co, and I’ve learned it has finalized a new DVD distribution deal with Sony’s Worldwide Acquisitions unit. TWC and Dimension releases will release through Sony’s DVD distribution pipeline. The structure is somewhat similar to the Summit DVD distribution deal with Universal, or Lionsgate’s deal with Fox, except those two companies handle their own DVD marketing campaigns. Though TWC has involvement, Sony will spearhead marketing of TWC’s DVD product, as the studio does in its deal with Bob Berney’s Apparition. The Weinsteins will get a modest advance for each film and pay a distribution fee neither side would divulge.
DVD distribution has been a conundrum for the Weinsteins, who once took a majority stake in distributor Genius Products and released through that company until they divested last year. The Sony deal is envisioned as long-term, but it is being meted out in packages of 9 to 10 films. True, the titles in the first group of films didn’t burn up the box office. The 1st batch consists of Nine, the underperforming Rob Marshall-directed musical, A Single Man, The Road, Youth in Revolt, Halloween, Piranha 3-D, Nowhere Boy, Hoodwinked 2, and Blue Valentine, the latter that Ryan Gosling-Michelle Williams drama acquired by TWC last month at Sundance. The 2nd package of 10 films will encompass the next batch of TWC releases.
In terms of output, Harvey and Bob each intend to generate 4 pictures each per year, and acquire another 6 to 8 titles at festivals. The benefit for TWC is the muscle of a big studio distribution machine, and no overhead. The benefit for Sony’s Worldwide Acquisitions is securing product to feed the Sony distribution machine, and hoping for the possibility that the Weinsteins could generate another Chicago, Scream, or Inglourious Basterds.