Growing Benelux distributor Paradiso is to move into video releasing following the take-over of well-established outfit Laurus Entertainment.

Laurus, headed by Hans Goosens, has been in business for ten years covering the rental and retail sectors in The Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium.

The acquisition means that within the dominant part of the Benelux region Paradiso will be able to handle its own titles in-house, benefiting from economies of scale and linked marketing. It aims to handle four to five titles a month and an annual total of about fifty films. Previously Paradiso had retained video rights, but appointed third party distributors to handle marketing and physical distribution.

"We looked at our growing slate for the next year and calculated that it would be better for us to do the video distribution ourselves. We considered building our own operation from scratch, but were approached by a couple of companies," said Paradiso vice president, Erik Engelen. "This way we can start quickly and have the benefit of a really solid, reliable team with good distribution and marketing skills."

Goosens will become a Paradiso vice president reporting to Engelen and Paradiso CEO Martien Uyttendaele.

In the smaller French speaking part of Belgium and Luxembourg, where release schedules are linked to those of neighbouring France, Paradiso will continue to hire sub-contract distributors.

Paradiso has grown speedily in the past five years from a Flemish-acquisition company into a theatrical distributor covering the Benelux region. The move into video becomes effective from September. Paradiso has an output deal with Wild Bunch and long-standing relationships with New Line, Good Machine and Summit, giving it a theatrical slate now approaching 25 films a year. Recent acquisitions include About Schmidt, White Oleander, Spirited Away, Secretary and Welcome To Collinwood.

"We intend to serve the rental market as much as the sell-through sector. Rental is still very important in Benelux. What we intend to do is ensure that the rental campaigns gain more benefit from the theatrical release and then concentrate our second promotional effort on the retail release," said Engelen.