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« on: January 05, 2007, 08:56:41 PM »

THE EMPIRE DVD COLLECTION
NOW AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY FROM FIRST RUN FEATURES

Empire Pictures and First Run Features have inked an exclusive distribution agreement for First Run to handle all Empire titles which had been released through Empire's home video division. Having been unavailable for a year or longer, the Empire titles will be brought out in waves starting with three acclaimed gems - the Academy Award-nominated Twilight Samurai; the Isabelle Huppert showpiece La Vie Promise; and the extraordinary documentary double feature about Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times and 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris. All three DVDs street on February 20 (prebook January 16).
   
   

Empire Pictures, the art house distribution company founded by Edmondo Schwartz  and Ed Arentz in 2000, has occupied a distinguished niche amongst US distributors, cultivating a reputation as a home for provocative and celebrated foreign films. Early in its history it scored a huge success when The Twilight Samurai garnered an Academy Award nomination. Several other titles also achieved attention and playdates around the country, including the story of Napoleon's escape from the island where he was exiled, Monsieur N.; the best-selling adaptation of the award-winning novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress; and the brave answer to 9/11 from famous filmmakers around the world, September 11. Empire also sometimes covered more conventional territory, with titles such as the classic kids/family story I Am The Cheese (starring Robert Wagner, Hope Lange and Cynthia Nixon) and genre titles such as The Big Score (starring Fred Williamson) and The Night Stalker (inspired by the Richard Ramirez murder spree).

First Run Features was founded in 1979 by a group of independent filmmakers to advance the distribution of independent films at a time when few distributors were willing to take a chance with smaller, more difficult titles.  Quickly gaining a reputation for its controversial catalogue of films dealing with political and social issues, First Run Features was one of the first companies to bring serious documentaries to theatrical markets. Titles such as 28 Up, Sherman's March and Strangers in Good Company found their way to American audiences through First Run Features.  Now, after nearly 30 years, the company is one of the largest American distributors of independent features, documentaries and short films.

Edmondo Schwartz said "I couldn't be more pleased about the new arrangement between Empire and First Run. Empire's collection has found a forceful and fitting advocate in First Run Features, which has been a consistently successful distributor of art house home videos since the early 90's. I'm certain they'll do a great job handling our titles." Seymour Wishman, president of First Run, added "We're proud to be handling the collection Empire has built up over the years. I, along with the First Run staff, are great fans of their films. We look forward to strong sales over many years."

Following the release of the first three titles, First Run will release the next two titles, Monsieur N. and Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress on April 17. Other titles scheduled for the first half of 2007 include the Spanish lesbian drama Suddenly and the aforementioned I Am The Cheese on May 22; and September 11, Caterina in the Big City and Almost Peaceful on July 24.
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