Anchor Bay UK DVD announcements

At the Anchor Bay UK press event attended by DVD Times this week, a number of announcements were made regarding the company’s future, a preview of some of their DVD releases through 2004 and beyond, and their new venture into children’s titles.

The full text of the press releases regarding the DVD side of the business follow:

In the three years since its launch Anchor Bay UK has established itself as one of the UK’s premiere independent DVD labels, garnering plaudits from both critics and the public. ABE UK has become renowned for its dedication and commitment to releasing premium quality DVDs of a wide range of films, from award-winning arthouse fare to horror favourites and established cult classics – always painstakingly restored and digitally remastered.

ABE UK’s commitment to quality extends to producing the most features-laden DVDs possible by adding audio commentaries, interviews, photo galleries, featurettes and creating new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. During its relatively short period at the forefront of the home entertainment market, ABE UK has released definitive DVD collections of some of the world’s finest filmmakers, such as Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead Trilogy, The Werner Herzog Collection, George A. Romero’s Trilogy Of The Deadand The Roman Polanski Collection. The label has released hordes of DVD chart-toppers such as Withnail & I, The Long Good Friday and Time Bandits from the prestigious Handmade Films catalogue, the huge vampire hit Near Dark, works by Sam Peckinpah, classics from Master of Horror Dario Argento and arthouse maestro Wim Wenders and much more.

The recent purchase of Anchor Bay Entertainment worldwide by US giant IDT Entertainment has helped the UK company to enter a new phase of exciting growth. ABE UK continues to go from strength to strength and today makes several key announcements including a full throttle move in to theatrical distribution, a glittering array of new DVD releases for the months and years ahead and even the establishment of a label for kids.

Managing Director of Anchor Bay Entertainment UK, Mo Claridge, confirms that with IDT’s strong support, he has significantly accelerated the acquisition of titles and catalogues with the aim of rapidly establishing ABE UK as the dominant independent distributor in the UK and a major force throughout Europe.

“Anchor Bay UK’s first three full years were tremendous and we are thrilled about the new relationship with IDT Entertainment. We are confident that with their contacts, resources and existing product roster, we will continue to grow and develop ABE UK into the fully vertical company that we originally planned, encompassing Theatrical, Television, Video and DVD Exploitation”.

Whilst there is a great excitement surrounding Anchor Bay UK’s move into the UK theatrical arena, this hasn’t prevented the company from acquiring a mass of fantastic new rights to keep its core DVD business booming. The slate of titles now being made ready for release in 2004, 2005 and beyond is staggering and, as always, each one will be fully restored and digitally remastered to ensure top quality for fans and collectors.

This acquisitions programme means a schedule of essential Collections and Boxed Sets and must-have Special Editions, plus beautifully presented individual title releases for a long time to come.

Among forthcoming Collections and Boxed Sets, fans of classic horror should look out for a Pete Walker Collection (including, among others, House of Whipcord and Frightmare), a Norman Warren Collection (inc. Inseminoid, Prey and others), a Tigon Boxed Set (inc. The Body Stealers, The Virgin Witch and more), a 5 disc Wes Craven Boxed Set (to include Scream and New Nightmare plus masses of new Special Features) and an 8 disc Halloween Boxed Set which will include absolutely everything!

In the near future there will be Special Editions of movie classics such as Magic (starring Anthony Hopkins), The Night Porter (Dirk Bogarde / Charlotte Rampling), El Cid (Charlton Heston), The Fall of the Roman Empire and Pele The Conqueror. Further down the line (2005 onwards) there will be Special Editions of Heathers, the Hellraiser Trilogy, Children of the Corn series, Crime Story series 1 & 2, Dead and Buried and many, many more.

Horror fans will be further delighted by the release of a range of classic Spanish gory horrors including Tombs of The Blind Dead, Return of the Evil Dead, Horror of the Zombies and Night of the Seagulls.

“It doesn’t stop here”, says ABE UK Managing Director Mo Claridge, “our schedule just keeps building for the future and we are constantly acquiring titles, catalogues and companies. Importantly, I can assure all that every release will be presented in the most definitive and collectable way possible”.

Following its acquisition by US giant IDT Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment UK is launching a new label for younger viewers – Anchor Bay Kids – starting with the Sonic Underground series on 24th May.

Children’s entertainment is a genre previously only visited occasionally by ABE UK with one or two family and animated feature films and the enormously successful Tintin releases. From this point however, ABE UK will make use of the mammoth resources of its parent company to build a long term presence within the kids’ entertainment market.

IDT entertainment Inc last year acquired Film Roman Inc, the animation company famous for its production work on The Simpsons, King of the Hill and other hit TV shows; IDT also has a stake in Vanguard Animation LLC which involves a joint venture to produce and distribute computer generated (CG) entertainment.

The new Anchor Bay Kids label will release a range of animated series, all competitively priced between £5.99 and £9.99 – a brief list includes The Wizard of Oz, Evolution (based on the movie blockbuster), Dennis the Menace , Inspector Gadget, Double Dragons, The Mummy’s Alive, Swamp Thing and Street Sharks.

Future releases on the label will include the acclaimed TV animated series Xcalibur (currently airing on Channel 5) and two feature length Tintin movies.

Commenting on the new label, ABE UK Managing Director Mo Claridge says that Anchor Bay Kids is a natural extension of ABE UK’s activities, especially with the resources of IDT Entertainment Inc available. “The kids’ selection is incremental to our existing repertoire and will allow an entirely new audience of parents and youngsters to become familiar with the Anchor Bay brand. It is important that we continue to expand into new areas and genres outside the cult range in which we have been largely based so far”.

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