week in review digest


1st-half video biz rewinds just a bit

U.S. consumers spent a projected $10.7 billion on home video in the first six months of the year, down 2% when compared with the midway point of 2006, according to studio estimates and Home Media Magazine market research (HR 7/5). Rental spending was projected to remain flat at $3.9 billion, while DVD sales were pegged at $6.8 billion, down 3%. One reason for the decline in consumer spending could be the overall weaker boxoffice value of first-half DVD releases, off about 9% year-over-year. Warner Home Video's "Happy Feet" was the top-selling DVD released in the first six months with sales of 8.6 million units.

Alberta takes stake in Lionsgate series

TORONTO — Alberta likes the idea of Lionsgate relocating one of its TV series there so much, the province is taking an equity stake in the project (HR 7/6). Patti Tucker, Edmonton's film commissioner, said Thursday that a new two-year production deal will see Vancouver-based Lionsgate shoot 26 episodes of a still-to-be-decided TV series in Edmonton over the next two years. As part of a financial incentive package, the province of Alberta will invest CAN$5.4 million in the TV series, and the city of Edmonton will provide another CAN$3.5 million. In return, Edmonton will receive a 15% equity stake in the TV series. Lionsgate will decide by the end of July which of its series will relocate to Edmonton. But it is thought that either "The Dresden Files," a detective fantasy series on the Sci Fi Channel, or Showtime's "Masters of Horror" will make the move.

Mediaset gains control of Medusa

ROME — Italian broadcaster Mediaset has acquired complete ownership of film distributor Medusa in a deal worth €152 million ($205 million) plus a percentage on Medusa films in distribution during the next year (HR 7/5). The move was not conducted on the open market because both companies are controlled by media tycoon and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — directly and through his holding company, Fininvest. Fininvest, which owns all of Medusa's stock, will transfer its ownership of Medusa to Mediaset for the cash payment and up to an additional €18 million ($24 million), a figure that will be based on the performance of Medusa films over the next 12 months.

'Contender' card for Asia

SINGAPORE — Mark Burnett Prods. has teamed with Singapore production house Imagine OmniMedia to co-produce the reality competition series "The Contender Asia," scheduled to start shooting in Singapore in August (HR 7/9). "Contender Asia" will center on the martial art of Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing, and air on AXN. It marks the first adaptation of the "Contender" format that doesn't center on traditional boxing, said C. Scot Cru, head of international at Mark Burnett Prods. Cru added that negotiations are under way to air "Contender Asia" in the U.S.