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Marco Polo A New French Distribution Company
Has Been Launched By Los Angeles Based
Richard Rionda Del Castro & Patricia Eberle
Patricia Eberle & Richard Rionda Del Castro
The independent sector has faced a string of obstacles in getting product to the market across worldwide territories. Increased merger and consolidation, the loss of DVD sales in some territories, plus the economy and constantly evolving technology have led to creative strategizing among the independent sales community. In spite of the acknowledged downturn in the video business with the new online and mobile ancillaries, on many levels there is 'space' to exploit titles in countries like France where the climate for the independent to find distribution has been particularly tough.

Recently, Richard Rionda Del Castro and Patricia Eberle have acquired full ownership of the French distribution entity Marco Polo Production to distribute third party films in the French market place.

"The path to this development has been twofold," said Richard Rionda Del Castro. "Firstly, for some time Patricia and I have been exploring how to grow the business and have a presence in France, my native country, whilst maintaining our LA home and business base. Secondly, it has become increasingly difficult in the French market to find a reliable distributor who can pay a reputable minimum guarantee and market the films appropriately."

At the start of 2012 Marco Polo released the Emmett/Furla Films production Setup starring Bruce Willis, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, and Ryan Phillippe, which was the number one independent straight to video title with close to 90,000 units sold to date.

Over the past 2 years, Marco Polo has distributed the following films in the French market: Give 'Em Hell Malone, Gun, Giallo, All Things Fall Apart, Mirror Wars, The Big Bang, Setup, Casino Jack, Deserter, The Samaritan, and the highly anticipated Get The Gringo, starring Mel Gibson. Over the next few months, Marco Polo will release The Tempest, Battlefield America, War Of The Dead, Touchback, and Henry's Crime.

Rionda Del Castro continued, "We started with films that were immediately available to us through our production and sales activities in the United States. After many successful releases our focus then shifted to acquiring third party titles at a maximum price establishing ourselves as another active player in France." Through strategic collaboration with Marco Polo's partners in France, Marco Polo has proven to be a strong presence working directly on the field with over 4,000 retailers. The films are dubbed in French while its team of graphic artists develop creative marketing campaigns and key art based on their knowledge of the market demographics and French sensibility.

Marco Polo's aggressive strategy has led to the acquisition of bigger and bigger films. Get the Gringo acquired from Icon Entertainment, starring Mel Gibson is the largest film Marco Polo has acquired, but Marco Polo has no intention of slowing down. "Moving forward during AFM, we will continue to acquire high quality commercial films, such as Get The Gringo," says Rionda Del Castro.

With a population of 70 million, driven by familiarity with technology, highly developed Internet and broadband coverage, an audience appetite driven by the success of local producers such as Luc Besson with his slate of ongoing successes, and the unparalleled success of The Intouchables, the French film nominated for an Oscar, the consumer landscape of the French market remains a healthy sector to exploit.

Rionda Del Castro concluded, "The interesting aspect for us is that it's a different job to sell movies and we have the opportunity to experience and take the risk on the other side of the coin, and the risk is not just limited to the money you pay to the producers or a sales agent. The risk also encompasses the investment in marketing the films. With the films we have acquired and subsequently distributed, the success is very often finding the right marketing angle, and to accomplish this we have invested in taking extra time to evaluate the films, and have ensured that we have the financial resources to dedicate to each title to return the maximum result for each film."

Marco Polo has thrived from the usual first year start-up position principally because of a changed business environment. Most of the smaller to medium sized independent sales companies are experiencing the same difficulties, less distributors in France and around the world.

Though based in France, Marco Polo Production has offices in the United States, which saves time when negotiating and circulating contracts. The US office also eliminates any translation barriers, and affords Marco Polo the financial capability to make acquisition decisions on the spot. That financial capability continues in France when the company markets the films it acquires with all the advantages of its local knowledge.

The ongoing slate of films sought through third party acquisitions are in collaboration with Marco Polo's two non-exclusive agents, Laurie Woodrow of Fierce Entertainment and Mark Holdom.

Recognized by the CNC, Marco Polo Production is a fully capitalized French based company.

About CNC
Created by the law of 25 October 1946, the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC) is a public administrative organization, set up as a separate and financially independent entity.
The centre comes under the authority of the ministry of culture and communication and Eric Garandeau is its president.

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