EXCLUSIVE: Vuguru inks output deal

Michael Eisner-owned studio signs pact with Fireworks Int'l

Michael Eisner-owned studio Vuguru has signed an international distribution deal with Fireworks International that marks an unprecedented commitment to multiplatform original programming.

Fireworks, a division of ContentFilm, will pay an unspecified sum to Vuguru for first-look rights to its upcoming slate of 10 projects during the next two years.

With backing from Canadian cable giant Rogers Media, Vuguru has been a pioneer in creating premium serialized shortform content including "Prom Queen" and "Back on Topps" that originates online but is repackaged for other windows ranging from VOD to international TV.

The pact marks a maturation in digital distribution because it is structured more like a film output deal, in which the distributor pays for rights. It also establishes Fireworks as an emerging alternative to the studios that have dominated international distribution because of their existing pipelines for film and TV; online and mobile content can be something of an afterthought in comparison.

"ContentFilm is an ideal partner because they're very focused on extracting the maximum value out of multiplatform programming," Vuguru president Larry Tanz said. "Their commitment will help us build our catalog."

Fireworks will be able to take Vuguru content and sell it as both TV or digital content (the timing of the announcement just before MIPCOM is not a coincidence). For instance, the upcoming drama "Pretty Tough" can be bought as either 18 multi-minute videos or one 90-minute TV movie.

"What you've got here is a market leader for distributing multiplatform programming coming together with a market leader on the production of this programming," said Jonathan Ford, executive vp digital acquisitions and distribution at Fireworks.

Financial terms of the deal, which does not cover North America, were not disclosed.