Home video veteran Louis Feola has been named president of Paramount Pictures' newly launched direct-to-DVD division.
Feola for years ran Universal Pictures' made-for-home entertainment business and, before that, headed the studio's home video unit. At Paramount, he will oversee the development and production of sequels, prequels and remakes culled from the libraries of Viacom Inc.'s Paramount, its specialty label Paramount Vantage, DreamWorks, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies.
The new unit will also tap programming and properties from Viacom-owned cable channels including BET Networks, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and Spike TV.
Working closely with Paramount Worldwide Home Entertainment, Feola will be responsible for releasing four to six films a year, each expected to cost less than $10 million.
The division will have its own development and business affairs departments.
Paramount becomes the latest studio to try to cash in on what has been a relatively low-cost, successful business for such rivals as Walt Disney Studios and Universal. In the last two years, both 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. have jumped on the bandwagon.
"The Land Before Time," one of the made-for-video franchises that Feola oversaw at Universal, has amassed more than $1 billion in retail sales.
Feola said that although the direct-to-DVD business faces steep competition from sales of boxed sets of popular TV shows such as "Lost" and "24," made-for-video titles are filling a void left by diminishing sales of older library titles. In a good year, the business can generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
Feola spent more than two decades at Universal, where he oversaw the production of nearly 50 made-for-video titles including DVD sequels to such films as "American Pie" and "Bring It On."