By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act October 3, 2012 at 5:29PM
It was in April when Robert Johnson's plans to acquire Image Entertainment and Acorn Media Group, to create what was deemed a "formidable independent distributor," were revealed.
Skip ahead 6 months to news today that the acquisition is indeed complete; both Image and Acorn have been swallowed by RLJ.
In case you're not already aware... Image Entertainment is the acquisition and distribution company (primarily) behind the releases of recent titles we've written about, like 50 Cent's All Things Fall Apart, Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer (home video), Matthew Cherry's The Last Fall, Dysfunctional Friends, the Berine Mac documentary, I Ain't Scared Of You, amongst many, many others.
While their library is indeed quite vast and varied (not just black film), you'll find a hefty representation of what Hollywood would term "urban content," or content for the "urban market."
So it does makes sense that Johnson would be interested, given his history as BET founder, as well as film production company Our Stories Films Inc, which Tracey Edmonds is currently running.
And while Image Entertainment is an USA-based company, Acorn Media group has several international arms: with its Acorn label, it's the leading distributor of British television programming to consumers in North America. Its Acacia label offers a line of original health & wellness programming. Its Athena label offers acclaimed documentaries to US customers. Acorn Direct is a direct-to-consumer division offering DVDs, digital downloads, and other high quality products in North America; Acorn Media U.K. and Acorn Media Australia distribute comparable lines of DVD titles to consumers in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
The press release below, which confirms the completion of the acquisition, and provides some further insight, states that Johnson plans to become a major player in the distribution of content across all platforms - DVD, Blu-ray, digital downloads, streaming, broadcast TV and cable.
Image Entertainment, with a library of 3700 titles, already has established channels to all those platforms; as does Acorn - although its reach is apparently much wider.
Also worth noting is that announced agreement Johnson has with YouTube to develop a new faith-friendly channel called ALRIGHT TV.
So ultimately, a goal is to be able to deliver content to consumers via as many dominant existing channels as possible. Give the people what they want, when they want it.
Love or hate Mr Johnson, he's a business man, and he's been successful as one for some time.
Besides, some of you filmmakers reading this just might see your films distributed by this new company.
Here's the press release.
NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RLJ ACQUISITION, INC. ANNOUNCES SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF ITS BUSINESS COMBINATION ACQUIRING IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT, INC. AND ACORN MEDIA GROUP TO FORM RLJ ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
Robert L. Johnson, Founder of The RLJ Companies, Will Serve as Executive Chairman of The New NASDAQ Publicly Traded Company
BETHESDA, MD//OCTOBER 3, 2012//Robert L. Johnson, Chairman of The RLJ Companies and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), announced today RLJ Acquisition, Inc. (OTCQB: RLJAU; RLJA; RLJAW) (the “Company”) has successfully completed the business combination acquiring Image Entertainment, Inc. (OTCQB:DISK) (“Image”) and Acorn Media Group, Inc., two highly complementary media content distribution companies to create RLJ Entertainment, Inc. Approved by the Company’s, Image’s and Acorn’s respective shareholders, RLJ Entertainment, Inc. becomes one of the largest independent global distributors of digital and video content.
“RLJ Entertainment CEO Ted Green, COO Miguel Penella, and I are very excited about this new business combination. RLJ Entertainment’s goal is to become a preeminent distributor of content to all media platforms including DVD and Blu-Ray, digital downloads, digital streaming, and broadcast and cable,” said Mr. Johnson. “We are also committed as part of our business strategy, to leveraging our experience in acquiring, distributing, and monetizing content to create branded digital subscription channels over the Internet targeted to distinct audiences that are underserved by current media platforms and interested in programming that appeals directly to their unique viewing interests.
“RLJ Entertainment believes that the growing convergence of streaming digital content directly to the television set will revolutionize the way consumers acquire content on a customized a la carte basis rather than purchasing bundled packages. RLJ Entertainment is uniquely situated to become a prominent player in a digital media world where the consumer controls what they want to see and when and where they want to see it.”