Australian sales agent Odin’s Eye Entertainment (OEE) has signed an agreement with Warner Bros Digital Distribution for electronic sell-through and video-on-demand (VoD) distribution of its films via cable, satellite and broadband platforms in North America.

In a statement, head of OEE Michael Favelle described the deal as “the centrepiece of our US strategy and a huge coup for both OEE and our producers.”

“What we are doing is breaking up the rights to maximise returns over the long term,” he told by way of explanation. “The VoD landscape is moving so fast and there are more middlemen now than ever before. We don’t want to be left behind but we also don’t want to assign our rights away for 10 or 15 years and not have a catalogue to exploit. I have always taken a long-term not a quick cash-in-and-run approach.”

For each film that goes through Warner Bros he is likely to have a series of other partners for free and pay-television, DVD and day-and-date theatrical.

He is currently picking up eight to 12 films per year for the core international sales business, but clearly expects to sign on for more because he anticipates that there will be about 20 films per year released into North America through this new arrangement, despite there being no obligation on either party.

“This deal means we will now pick up films specifically for North America, as well as those for international sales. It means we can also sign for films that will suit VoD only, that is, films that are more niche, documentaries being a good example.”

Favelle said he and Warner has already decided which two films to put through the deal for each of June, July and August, but would not name them.

He had several potential partners in his sights but liked Warner’s style: “[They are] amongst the best in the game and, with their complete digital footprint, our films will be in safe and experienced hands. While many films we represent will follow the traditional sales model, this deal gives us increased flexibility to secure the best financial return for our producing partners.”

OEE picks up films from across the world but its catalogue of 40 films includes many by passionate young Australian filmmakers making genre pictures without direct government subsidy. The landscape is now better for such people due to the indirect funds available through the producers’ offset.

OEE is the only significant sales agent headquartered in Australia, although LA-based Arclight has an Australian office at Fox Studios and there are many non-Australian sales agents who keep close track of the territory.