Three of the architects of the reissue business, with skills honed from decades spent at Rhino Records, are diving deep into another realm of nostalgia: cult TV shows and films.
Shout Factory, which CEO Richard Foos, COO Bob Emmer and president Garson Foos founded in 2003 as a DVD distribution company focused on music releases, recently acquired the 400-plus-movie library Westchester Films, adding such titles as Alfred Hitchcock‘s Foreign Correspondent, John Ford‘s Stagecoach, Merchant-Ivory’s A Room With a View and The Marx Brothers‘ A Night in Casablanca to its library. Key to the deal is Shout’s ability to sell the films for broadcast, plus strike new deals for DVD packages when licenses with other companies expire.
“We’ve morphed our business to be a visual content business,” says Garson Foos, who figures there are five years left in the business of DVDs and CDs, more for areas where Shout excels, like family films and horror. “The good news for us is Netflix isn’t going that deep. They don’t care much about old TV shows like Dobie Gillis.”
But while music looks to be taking a backseat, Shout’s roots are paying off as it takes on projects with complicated music rights that studios have abandoned. The latest: WKRP in Cincinnati. After 20th Century Fox issued a DVD of the first season without the original music, it stirred a vitriolic response from fans. Shout has a complete series box set coming out Oct. 24 with 90 percent of the original songs restored. The company did the same for Freaks and Geeks and The Jeffersons.
“It’s that tie back to having the music relationships, knowing how to do that in the most cost-effective way,” says Foos. “The major studios almost only do all rights worldwide in perpetuity. We’ll say, ‘We just need North America for five years,’ and do it on a royalty basis. We do it more surgically, and that enables us to do it less expensively.”