New York-based investment firm MEP Capital, which previously acquired the library of Lotus Entertainment, is launching West Side Pictures, a new independent rights management banner.
Along with Lotus Entertainment, MEP also recently acquired the distribution rights to over 500 films and TV shows from Kew Media, including “Line of Duty,” “Thank You For Smoking” and “Jack Taylor and Rules of Engagement.”
Now boasting a library comprising more than 800 movies, TV series and documentaries, MEP Capital has signed deals with Magnolia and Abacus Media Rights to handle the distribution of these titles in the U.S. and internationally, across streamers and TV channels.
West Side Pictures will also own and manage ongoing debt and equity participations positions in the late Roger Michell’s “Blackbird” and The Jim Henson Company’s “Portable Door,” among a dozen of productions funded by MEP Capital.
Prior acquisitions consolidated in West Side Pictures include the 58-title library previously managed by Lotus Entertainment, notably “Hachi”, “The Grey”, “Jobs”, “Just Friends;” as well as 11 critically acclaimed indie movies produced by John Hart, such as the Oscar-winning “Boys Don’t Cry” and “You Can Count on Me.”
MEP Capital partner Andrew Kotliar said “Magnolia will be primarily focusing on distributing, servicing and merchandising these titles in all rights domestically, including TVOD, SVOD and AVOD.” Abacus Media Rights, the company created by former Kew Media Distribution sales boss Jonathan Ford, will focus on worldwide licensing of these titles.
Speaking to Variety, Kotliar says he launched MEP Capital years ago to invest in the music industry and started diversifying into the film, TV, and other media segments in 2017. He argues the timing is right to consolidate its position in the movie and TV landscape with the creation of West Side Pictures.
“We see a lot of opportunities right now in aggregating these rights at a time when there’s a lot of change across all of the various platforms,” says Kotliar. “We’re big believers that this type of content is going to continue being valuable for all the platforms, especially as the various streamers and networks are realizing they can’t sustain their services solely on owned and internally-produced IP,” continued the executive.
Kotliar predicts that streamers “will need third party content to supplement their originals more so than ever.” He says West Side Pictures will provide them with a scaled library that has a combination of select prestige movies like “Boys Don’t Cry,” and more commercial fare.
The banner is now eyeing further acquisitions, notably several investments in distribution and production companies outside the United States, says Kotliar. In terms of new movie production financing, the company typically seeks projects with budgets up to $20 million. MEC Capital also backs select players in the U.S., such as Will and Jada Smith’s Westbrook.