Universal and Columbia TriStar Join for International DVD Distribution

Last week, Columbia TriStar Home Video (CTHV) and Universal Studios Home Video (USHV) jointly announced an agreement to distribute USHV DVDs outside North America. According to the companies, the agreement represents a milestone in the international expansion of DVD. CTHV, the first major Hollywood studio to release films on DVD outside the US (i.e., in Europe, Latin America, and Japan), is now joined by USHV as one of the few major studios releasing its movies on a consistent basis internationally.

According to Benjamin S. Feingold, president of CTHV, "Without the early commitment of CTHV, USHV, and Warner Home Video, the home-video industry in North America would not be experiencing the exponential growth of this exciting new format. We hope that the USHV/CTHV announcement will foreshadow the entry of other studios into the international market as quickly as possible. The availability of new films from Universal and one of the best catalogs in our industry will stimulate future sales of DVD machines and software purchases for rental and sale."

"We are happy to be partnering with CTHV, as both companies share a high level of commitment to the format," adds Bill Clark, executive vice president and COO of USHV. "We think this arrangement will significantly facilitate the rapid growth of the format outside North America. Whenever possible, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. [Panasonic] will continue to provide worldwide authoring, compression, mastering, and replication services for Universal titles."

Both USHV and CTHV agree that, whenever possible, new-release DVDs will be "day-and-date" with their VHS counterparts, and catalog titles will be released at the earliest possible moment to build a successful international DVD business. The agreement includes such titles as the recent theatrical hits Patch Adams and Shakespeare in Love, as well as other prominent Universal titles, such as Out of Sight, Apollo 13, Daylight, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, and Dante's Peak. Additional titles include Psycho, Meet Joe Black, and the original Babe.