Dark Horse & Image Entertainment Announce New Venture

Image Entertainment, Inc., a leading licensee, producer and distributor of DVD programming, today announced a major venture with Dark Horse Entertainment to produce, distribute and share ownership of theatrical features, direct-to-video projects, animated content and soundtrack albums for worldwide distribution.

Commenting on the agreement, Martin W. Greenwald, Image’s President and CEO, stated, “The deal with Dark Horse is particularly important. Historically, Image has licensed content for distribution under the content provider’s ownership. This agreement is a major step for Image in that Dark Horse and Image will now share ownership of the content. It is part of our natural progression in evolving from distributing licensed content to distributing content that is owned. This represents what I envision will be a model for future agreements.

“Dark Horse is one of the most popular names in the comic book industry. They have successfully produced more than a dozen of their comic book-based properties for film, television and animation. Image’s recent expansion into the anime genre made this relationship even more enticing to us. Dark Horse is a strong and successful brand throughout the world. We look forward to developing Dark Horse properties in all formats. It is clear that Image Entertainment is expanding its horizons, and I couldn’t be more delighted that we are doing so with Dark Horse Entertainment,” concluded Greenwald.

Barry Gordon, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions for Image, commented, “There’s a built-in recognition and proven credibility among consumers for all things Dark Horse. With the creation of a home entertainment label bearing the Dark Horse name, properties created through this strategic alliance should enjoy ready and willing acceptance throughout retail.”

Mike Richardson, Founder and President of Dark Horse Entertainment, stated, “We are very excited about this new venture with Image Entertainment. Dark Horse has been pursued by a variety of major companies and independents recently, but we really feel comfortable with the chemistry here. We look forward to this relationship, which will include feature film production and distribution, soundtrack albums for our properties, animation, and merchandising of products developed through the venture. Image clearly understands and shares our vision for building an independent juggernaut of compelling and exciting programming.”

Dark Horse Entertainment has become a driving force in feature film franchises through the use of their properties as demonstrated with this year’s blockbuster film Hellboy, as well as classic properties such as The Mask, Timecop and Barb Wire with Pam Anderson. Upcoming theatrical features include Son of the Mask and Criminal Macabre. Dark Horse Comics publishes such diverse comic book properties as Mike Mignolia’s “Hellboy,” Frank Miller’s “Sin City,” and Matt Wagner’s “Grendel,” as well as such licensed titles as “Star Wars,” “Conan,” and “Shrek.” The company also publishes the cream of the manga crop, with monster hits such as Kazuo Koike’s “Lone Wolf & Cub,” Katsuhiro Ottomo’s “Akira,” Yasyhiro Nightow’s “Trigun,” Masamune Shirow’s “Ghost in the Shell,” Hiroaki Samura’s “Blade of the Immortal,” and Kosuke Fujishima’s “Oh My Goddess!” Dark Horse is recognized as the world’s leading publisher of both creator-owned and licensed comic material.

Through the relationship, Image and Dark Horse will produce projects ranging from limited theatrical releases to direct-to-video product, spanning genres from horror and science fiction to superhero adventures and anime. Projected releases will involve a wide range of directorial and acting talent including such names as John Landis, Bruce Campbell, and Neil Gaiman. Barry Levine introduced the two companies and will produce with Richardson.

One of the first slated projects will be a horror feature written and directed by Landis, a recognized master at blending the supernatural and comedy with such cult favorites as “An American Werewolf in London,” “Innocent Blood,” and “Amazon Women on the Moon.” Landis also directed the comedy favorites “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” “Blues Brothers” and “Kentucky Fried Movie.” Other projects will be directed by Campbell, best known for his “Ash” character in Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead Trilogy,” and Gaiman, bestselling novelist and graphic novel writer.

Dark Horse and Image will create a new imprint for the venture: Dark Horse Home Entertainment. The imprint will serve as a cornerstone of Image’s new mission to work with strategic allies to develop and produce programming for theatrical and direct-to-video venues in both live action and animated programming, solidifying an equity position in perpetuity.

Source: Image Entertainment, Inc.