Era Home Entertainment has struck an exclusive deal with Universal Pictures to handle all the studio's home video distribution in Hong Kong.

The two year agreement strengthens Era's position as the largest video distributor of foreign movies in Hong Kong, with a market share of one third in the territory.

The deal gives Era rights to hits such as Billy Elliot, Cast Away and Hannibal. It will distribute Universal's VCDs and DreamWorks SKG's home entertainment's VCDs and DVD products. Universal's DVD rights are also expected to be turned over to Era in early 2002, when the present distribution contract with Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment expires.

Mike Preece, senior vice president of Universal's Video distribution arm, said that the partnership with Era's well-established network will: "enhance the penetration of our motion pictures into the home video market."

Preece also cited Era's good relationship with "multiples" such as Blockbuster, HMV and supermarkets and convenience stores, as another reason for teaming with the Hong Kong distribution company.

Universal's theatrical distribution in Hong Kong continues to be handled through United International Pictures (UIP).