Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Quirky Collection Makes MVP an Industry Leader

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Quirky Collection Makes MVP an Industry Leader

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- The oddball combination of drooling babies and violent criminals has transformed MVP Home Entertainment from start- up to industry leader in less than four years.

MVP, whose biggest hits are Babymugs! and Cops -- Too Hot for TV with sales of 1.2 million copies each, expects revenues to hit $30 million this year. It is already planning to move to a roomier locale to accommodate its Canoga Park warehouse and workforce of about 40 employees. In 1994, MVP had five employees and sales of $1.4 million.

"We'll probably be ready for a bigger location by the end of next June when our lease runs out," said MVP President and Chief Executive Officer Philip Knowles. He expects to release 30 titles this year, usually 25 to 60 minutes each, with a price tag of $9.99 to $19.99. The company has emerged as a specialist in pulling together home videos quickly, such as a collection of news footage on the Heaven's Gate mass suicide and a recap of the Feb. 28 North Hollywood shootout, with some proceeds donated to the Los Angeles Police Department. In the latter case, the video was on store shelves in two weeks. Fred Marx, retail consultant with Marx Layne Management of Farmington Hills, Mich., said the success of low-cost offbeat videos is no surprise. "I think there's a certain one-upmanship in owning or giving a video that's a little bit out of the ordinary," Marx said. "As a gift, it replaces the box of candy and it's calorie free. It's a $10 one-size-fits-all." Knowles, a native of England, came to the United States five years ago after operating a chain of hair salons and "stumbled" into the home video business after partner Michael Campbell acquired several titles through a bankruptcy sale. Since starting the company in 1994, he said, MVP has established a reputation as being willing to take on chancy projects and its ability to respond quickly. Knowles chooses a mix of documentary and reality-based programming that can sell at least 50,000 copies. Among MVP's prominent titles -- Kitty Faces and Doggy Faces; Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade, the original 29-minute film that led to Sling Blade; UFOs, Above and Beyond, promising more UFO footage than any other video; Marty Stouffer's Wild America, an exploration of animal behavior; and an upcoming Kid Talk project with Dick Clark. …

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