Hart Sharp sold to digital distrib


Hart Sharp Video has been acquired by a London-based digital film distributor, a move company president Joe Amodei said should lead to significant expansion for the independent home entertainment supplier, both in content and in distribution channels.

Arts Alliance Media paid an unspecified amount of money for Hart Sharp, best known for its top-selling Morgan Spurlock documentary, "Super Size Me." The sale gives Arts Alliance a North American base with greater access to U.S. filmmakers to feed its digital distribution network, said to be the largest in Europe.

Hart Sharp, in turn, gets an infusion of money and immediate entree into digital distribution.

"We will now be able to expand our business further by establishing a new online presence based on existing AAM technology and services that will enable for a wider, more immediate distribution of our film content," Amodei said. "The new innovative areas of digital home distribution are extremely exciting to us."

Still, he added, "our core DVD business will continue to remain the biggest revenue stream for some time to come."

Howard Kiedaisch, AAM's chief executive officer, called Amodei and his team "a savvy and well-respected group of professionals."

"Many great opportunities lie ahead for us as we take our digital home distribution business to new heights," he said.

Amodei, a 20-year veteran of the home entertainment business, founded Hart Sharp Video in January 2003 after the shuttering of USA Films' home video division, of which he was president. The nascent company's first release, "Sinatra: The Classic Duets," came in June. Since then Hart Sharp has distributed an eclectic array of product, from "Super Size Me" and other documentaries to feature films, TV DVD and sports titles such as "Live the Dream: The Texas Longhorns' Magical March to the 2005 National Championship."

Upcoming releases include "The Tiger and the Snow," the latest film from Oscar-winning director Roberto Benigni (May 15), and the mockumentary "Chalk," the first release in the new "Morgan Spurlock Presents" line. "Chalk" also is Hart Sharp's first theatrical release; it opens in eight cities beginning May 11 and will be released on DVD later in the year.

Hart Sharp also is releasing a series of branded TV Guide releases, including "TV Guide Presents Banacek--The First Season" and "TV Guide Presents The Crow: Stairway to Heaven--The Complete First Season."