WASHINGTON (Nov. 29, 2005)–National Geographic announced today it has acquired the distribution rights to Destination Cinema Inc.’s giant-screen film portfolio and will serve as distributing agent for nWave Pictures’ library of giant-screen 3-D films in the Americas beginning Jan. 1, 2006. Film industry distribution veteran Mark Katz has been hired as president of National Geographic’s new giant-screen film distribution operation.
Katz will report to Lisa Truitt, president of Giant Screen Films and Special Projects, and will be based in Greenwich, Conn. He comes to National Geographic from nWave Pictures, where he was president of distribution. He grew their distribution business 150 percent in the first five years of operation, grew product inventory by 700 percent during the same period and oversaw the release of successful titles such as “3D Mania: Encounter in the Third Dimension” and “Wild Safari 3D.” These films and all others in the nWave library, which represents one of the largest and most successful collection of 3-D giant-screen films, will now be distributed to large-format theaters in the Americas by National Geographic on behalf of nWave Pictures.
National Geographic also plans to assume full global distribution rights for the new giant-screen film, “Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France,” produced by Partner’s Healthcare Inc.
“I am delighted Mark is joining the team. With his extensive experience in the film distribution industry, he is the best person for the job, and his vast experience with 3-D and other special-format films will be invaluable as we move into those areas. Just as important, we can now align our giant-screen films even more closely with National Geographic’s mission and brand, while creating entertaining films for audiences across the globe,” said Truitt. “I’m just as delighted with the broader collaboration with two such well-regarded companies as DCI and nWave. In an industry as small and challenging as ours, such partnerships are critical to all of our success in the future.”
“I’ve always respected and admired the National Geographic brand and am excited about this opportunity to maximize the reach of National Geographic, DCI and nWave films, while also harnessing the power of National Geographic’s many media and mission arms,” said Katz. “I also look forward to helping develop and grow varied ancillary businesses in the film, digital and other out-of-home arenas.”
Prior to nWave, Katz worked as vice president of sales at Sony Pictures Classics, from 1994 to 1998, and as vice president of film distribution and new media development at MacGillivray Freeman Films Distribution Co., in 1994. Katz was born in Montreal, Canada.
Destination Cinema’s portfolio includes four National Geographic giant-screen films — “Forces of Nature,” “Roar,” “Lewis and Clark” and the blockbuster “Mysteries of Egypt,” which, at $102 million, is one of the highest-grossing films in the industry. National Geographic’s new giant-screen film distribution operation will also oversee distribution of the new National Geographic 3-D and 2-D giant-screen film “Sea Monsters,” currently in production.
Other films in DCI’s portfolio, which will be distributed by National Geographic, include “Yellowstone,” “Whales,” “Niagara: Miracles, Myths, and Magic,” “Hearst Castle: Building the Dream,” “Hidden Hawaii” and “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets,” another blockbuster that has grossed more than $240 million.
National Geographic will also take over Destination Cinema Inc.’s distribution of films for third parties, such as “To Be an Astronaut,” “Eruption of Mount St. Helens” and “Maximum Velocity.”
Bob Perkins, CEO of Destination Cinema Inc., said, “Transferring giant-screen film distribution to National Geographic is a good strategic move for both organizations. DCI’s business strategy going forward is to focus on the growth of its destination theater portfolio worldwide, and this move allows DCI to concentrate the company’s full resources on its core business.”
“The timing of our new collaboration with National Geographic could not be better,” said Ben Stassen, co-founder of nWave Pictures. “The large-format film industry needs drastic consolidation to ensure there is a future for the players committed to the format. After releasing seven titles in seven years, nWave is moving towards 3-D feature film production and digital 3-D distribution as our core business. Having said that, we still plan to produce a large-format 3-D film from time to time. Following the success of ‘Wild Safari 3D,’ we are currently in production on another 3-D wildlife film. I cannot think of a better partner than National Geographic and Mark Katz to ensure continuity in the handling of our present and future library. This new arrangement with National Geographic will ensure an uninterrupted distribution service to our customers in the Americas.”
About National Geographic Ventures
National Geographic Ventures (NGV) is a wholly owned subsidiary of National Geographic Society, founded in 1888 and one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations in the world. NGV holds and manages the Society’s equity interest in the National Geographic Channel. NGV also includes National Geographic Television & Film (NGT&F) production and distribution, National Geographic Feature Films and National Geographic Giant-Screen Films, Kids TV, National Geographic Home Entertainment, Digital Media business development, including Digital Motion (formerly Film Library) and Nationalgeographic.com, as well as National Geographic Maps. NGV creates and distributes content across multi-platforms and media providing outlets for the hundreds of scientific and expedition-based grants awarded each year. For more information, log on to nationalgeographic.com; AOL Keyword: NatGeo.