H'wood moves to stabilize Chinese DVD distribution

WHV, Par, DWA team for output

Warner Home Video has teamed with Paramount and DreamWorks Animation to distribute DVDs in China as part of the continuing war on piracy there.

WHV said Wednesday from Beijing that it will leverage its distribution infrastructure and expertise to provide high-quality, studio-authorized copies of top-selling films on DVD.

DreamWorks/Paramount's "Transformers" and DWA's "Shrek the Third" will be the first titles distributed under the partnerships.

"The addition of two major Hollywood studios' product in China — Paramount and DreamWorks Animation — further strengthens our efforts in building a legitimate video business in China," said Mark Horak, executive vp and GM of worldwide operations and new packaged media at WHV. "By providing a wide selection of high-quality, competitively priced DVDs, we will be offering consumers a more attractive alternative to lower-quality, pirated product."

CAV Warner Home Entertainment, a joint entertainment distribution venture between WHV and China Audio Video, will use its established relationships with retailers throughout China to distribute select Paramount and DWA titles in more than 50 cities and up to 20,000 outlets. WHV inked a joint venture with China Audio Visual in March 2005.

The first film distributed under the agreement, "Transformers," has been on offer there for the past week. The biggest original film of the year during its theatrical release, the DVD has become a top-selling title in China. "Shrek the Third" will be released Nov. 28. All titles will be distributed on competitively priced, Mandarin-language DVDs.

"Warner has demonstrated that securing key retail outlets in China is necessary to supplant pirated content with legitimate product to fight piracy in the market," said Dennis Maguire, president of Paramount Home Entertainment International. "Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation believe that consumers in China deserve to see their films at the best quality and most affordable price. Our relationship with Warner Bros. allows us the best opportunity to reach the most consumers with two of the year's most highly anticipated releases of 'Transformers' and 'Shrek the Third.' "

Added Philippe Cardon, president of Warner Home Video International: "We are pleased to welcome Paramount and DreamWorks into our growing distribution network in China. This agreement further strengthens our value proposition to readily provide inexpensive, quality DVDs, which appeal to consumers who are used to purchasing cheap pirated products."