E1 expands into France

Partnership on DVDs with Aventi mirrors recent deal in Australia. 'Challenging market,' notes Théroux

E1 Entertainment has expanded its distribution network into France, signing a DVD releasing partnership with local indie Aventi Distribution. E1 is now in a position to acquire rights for six licensing regions — the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Benelux, and Australia/New Zealand.

The deal is similar to E1′s relationship with Australia’s Beyond Home Entertainment, announced in February. Aventi will distribute E1-branded DVDs through its wholesale network, which includes major French and international players such as Fnac, Media Saturn, Virgin and Amazon. Meanwhile, sales to international digital outlets such as iTunes and local French television nets will be handled through E1 Television International’s offices in London.

Patrice Theroux

Topper Patrice Théroux tells Playback Daily that E1′s strategy in France and Australia allows the company to have access to the market without the considerable capital commitment and infrastructure maintenance of an acquisition, such as its purchase of Dutch distrib RCV.

‘France is a challenging market to sell into,’ adds Théroux. ‘There’s a lot of homegrown content. But we often acquire a program for the U.K. or Benelux and find the rights for France or Australia are also available. We may not always get a price reduction [on volume], but as a multi-territory buyer we offer sellers one contract.’

For now, the French deal is focused on home entertainment. But Théroux says the option of theatrical remains open. E1 holds French distribution rights on several features including Quebecois production Les 7 jours du talion, the U.K. title Dorian Gray and Love Ranch, the Taylor Hackford-directed title it recently acquired through the implosion of Capitol Films. The deal also allows E1 to capitalize on its burgeoning catalogue of in-house productions: TV titles set for DVD release in France include the CBS series The Bridge, the ABC series Rookie Blue (previously titled Copper) and Syfy series Haven.

For its part, Aventi distributes the catalogues of an impressive roster of French film and television production companies, including BAC Films M6 Video.