SYDNEY CIC Video Intl. is reinventing itself as a division of Paramount after its traumatic split from Universal -- a lengthy process that won't be completed for another year, officials say.
The London-based international homevid banner was re-launched as Paramount Home Entertainment Intl. (PHEI) last year after U's brass decided to pull out of the co-venture and route vid product through UPI.
Paul Miller, the ex-CIC Video president who's overseen the restructuring at Par, where he retains his prexy moniker, says the transition has been smooth, although he acknowledges that "we lost our focus a bit on (exploiting) our catalog and sell-through last summer because of all other things happening around us.
"We had a very tough start to the year and in March through May we had to put in place a program to handle just Paramount product. The potential for chaos was there but our guys and those at PFE (now UPI) were very professional," he tells Variety.
The loss of Universal's product progressively from July through last September and DreamWorks' move to UPI at the start of this year (via its pact with U) has forced PHEI to slim its workforce considerably.
The ghost of CIC Video lives on in Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Hong Kong -- all markets where UPI does not have branches and the two studios agreed to keep the joint venture operating. Miller expects those outposts to continue for at least two years.
To increase the volume of titles and maximize the use of its global distribution machines, the company is striking sales and distrib deals to handle films from local producers in markets including Germany, Spain, Scandinavia and, soon, Italy.