Paramount Pictures is getting into the direct-to-video business.

In a story from The Hollywood Reporter, they report that this new division "will be run by Louis Feola, the former president of what is now Universal Studios Home Entertainment. After leaving the helm of the video division in 1998, Feola launched a direct-to-video unit at Universal that has since seen the production of nearly 50 movies, including sequels to theatrical product The Land Before Time, American Pie and Beethoven."

It seems that this new unit "will develop and produce sequels and prequels to, as well as remakes of, popular titles from the libraries of Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, DreamWorks, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies as well as other Viacom brands."

"Paramount's library of titles and current and upcoming releases, combined with its access to exceptional brands within the Viacom family, makes for an extremely deep and broad selection of properties from which to develop franchises," Feola stated.

These "direct-to-video" companies within studios are becoming more and more common. Some of the reasons given for the rise are "flattening DVD sales, a dearth of untapped, marketable theatrical catalog titles and the growth of new distribution channels to bring entertainment into the home, from high-definition discs to digital downloading."

"The 'made-for' category is really starting to peak," Feola offered. "For years, we toiled at Universal, trying to establish it as a category, and it took us a long time to get credibility with retail and with agents, writers and directors. Now, it's just starting to get to that level of attention it deserves."

Currently, Feola is looking over Paramount and Viacom's libraries to decide which properties they are going to put in the pipeline. "The Paramount library is a natural first place to look," he said. "I'm also looking at (the studio's) current release slate, the current release slate from Vantage and catalog. Right now I am trying to prioritize. I have to figure out the best way to meet my business plan, and I also need to staff up, to bring people in to help me get that done."

Evan Jacobs