NBCU, Studio Canal team for home vid


LONDON -- NBC Universal's Universal Pictures International Entertainment and Vivendi's Studio Canal are creating a joint venture to market and distribute home entertainment titles in France.

The new partnership -- to be called Universal Studio Canal Video GIE -- will begin doing business in January. The Universal-Studio Canal venture will be the largest distributor of home entertainment in the €1.5 billion ($2 billion) French home entertainment market, according to UPIE president Eddie Cunningham and Studio Canal CEO Olivier Courson.

The two units' parent companies are established partners as Vivendi owns a 20% stake in NBC Universal, with General Electric controlling 80%.

"This joint venture will produce the leading home entertainment distribution entity in France, distributing two first-class new release slates and some of the most exciting and world-renowned catalog movie titles," Cunningham said.

UPIE and Studio Canal also have agreed to extend to 2010 an existing arrangement, under which UPIE handles the sales, marketing and distribution of Studio Canal DVDs in various international territories.

"I am extremely pleased to reinforce our partnership with Universal," Courson said. "Already this year, we have renewed our video and television distribution deals for the world outside of North America."

He added that the two sides are looking forward to jointly releasing on video the Working Title films, which Studio Canal and Universal have co-financed and co-developed for many years.