IDT Pumps Up Sales/Distribution Arm

A few months ago Rick Mischel, ceo of Mainframe Ent., alluded to AWN that a sales/distribution entity would be in place soon for IDT Ent. and now that has become a reality. IDT Ent. has formed IDT Ent. Sales (IDTeS) a new company responsible for the worldwide distribution of content from its companies, as well as third-party producers. IDT Ent. companies include Anchor Bay Ent., Manga Ent., DPS, DPS/Film Roman, Mainframe Ent. and DKP Effects.

Mischel is heading IDTeS as ceo while continuing to serve as Mainframes ceo in Vancouver. John W. Hyde, ceo of DPS/Film Roman and coo of IDT Ent., will oversee operations of IDTeS as vice chairman, and will remain in his North Hollywood, California, office.

IDT Ent. is headed by Steve Brown, chairman and Morris Berger. They will serve as IDTeS co-chairs, from their Newark, New Jersey, headquarters.

With the creation of IDT Ent. Sales, we dramatically expand our distribution capability, said Jim Courter, ceo of IDT Corp., a multinational carrier, telephone and technology company, which IDT Ent. is a subsidiary of. Now, not only do we have DVD distribution to retailers in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. through Anchor Bay, but we also gain the ability to acquire and distribute programming to television broadcasters worldwide.

IDTeS will launch at MIPCOM with a rash of high-brand product, and is looking to acquire product from outside producers. The reason I wanted to start this division was I wanted to offer outside producers a place for honest, enthusiastic distribution, Mischel told AWN.

He is particularly enthusiastic about IDTeS new evp of sales, Andrew Berman, a seasoned distribution exec who led the U.S. and worldwide sales efforts for TMS Ent., a well-known Japanese animation production and distribution company. Berman will be responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution for all company properties. He has his own suite of offices in the DPS/Film Roman building in North Hollywood and they are in the process of hiring distribution personnel for contracts and marketing in addition to more sales people and support. A U.K. office is also in the works.

IDT Ent. Sales will represent the worldwide sales and marketing of IDT Ent. properties, which include in-house productions of animated features, series, specials and live-action feature films.

The formation of IDT Ent. Sales will provide IDT Ent. with a global marketing presence and a significant new source of revenue, said Berger. We plan to immediately enter the worldwide distribution marketplace with IDT Ent. programming and to leverage our existing relationships with producers, production companies and studios to acquire the distribution rights for other premier properties.

Mischel said it was a natural evolution to create IDTeS. When you have enough critical mass, you can start to think about a sales organization, he said. Mischel has plenty of experience with critical mass, with stints at Harvey Ent., Live Ent. and Family Home Ent.

IDT Ent. Sales will be making its debut at MIPCOM in October with a first look at IDT Ent.s development of product from the recently announced deals with Stan Lees POW! Ent., LLC and Todd McFarlanes SPAWN. IDTeS will also unveil a preview of the new INSPECTOR GADGET computer-generated DVD feature, as well as a number of new properties from the IDT Ent. group of companies. Mischel co-financed the INSPECTOR GADGET project with DIC Ent. and holds distribution rights to the U.K. Canada and Australia, while DIC has rights in all other areas and Lions Gate has video distribution in the U.S. IDTeS will reintroduce the Film Roman library, which hasnt been out in the market for about four years, and there are series and movies from Mainframe, such as two REBOT direct-to-video not yet distributed in Europe.

IDT Ent. is now a fully vertically integrated worldwide production and distribution company, said Mischel. Well actually licensing/merchandising is the final component to be added. Until the company reaches that critical mass to warrant its own licensing division, the IDT companies will continue to strike agreements with licensing/merchandising reps per project, he said. With IDT Ent. Sales, we have the opportunity to take the next step and establish IDT Ent. as the leader in branded entertainment programming for the global marketplace.

IDT Ent. develops, produces and distributes proprietary and licensed entertainment content. It is in the early stages of production on two proprietary CG-animated feature films, Gene Roddenberrys STARPOINT ACADEMY and a feature yet to be named, directed by Christopher Reeve.

IDT Ent. consists primarily of the following wholly owned or controlled subsidiaries: Anchor Bay Ent., Manga Ent., Digital Production Solutions(DPS), DPS/Film Roman, Mainframe Ent. and DKP Effects.

Anchor Bay and Manga Ent. will continue with their distribution activities, while IDTeS will take care of rights the companies are not distributing.

IDT Ent. has completed several investments and joint ventures to secure access to brand name characters and content as well as distribution channels for family-friendly content. In July 2003, IDT purchased a minority equity interest in Vanguard Animation and entered into a joint venture with Vanguard to co-produce and co-own future Vanguard properties distributed in theaters, direct-to-video and on television. Vanguard Animation is a CG animated feature film company founded by John Williams, the originating producer of SHREK. Vanguards initial production, VALIANT, is the first in a series of four Vanguard-produced films to be distributed by Disney.

IDT Ent. has an equity interest in Archie Comics Ent., as well as rights to co-develop and co-produce animated properties. IDT has also entered into a joint venture with the Christian Broadcasting Network to develop and distribute family-friendly programming. IDT Ent. also owns a minority interest in Stan Lees POW! Ent. to co-develop and co-produce a minimum of six animation projects for direct-to-DVD distribution and broadcast. Recently, IDT Ent. entered into a multi-faceted development, production and distribution agreement with Todd McFarlane Prods. (TMP) to produce animated programming and merchandise based on SPAWN and other TMP original intellectual properties.