"Be water my friend."
Formerly known as Brentwood, the Navarre-owned BCI label is being shut down as, according to CEO Cary Deacon, its “operations have been unprofitable for the past two years.” There’s a lot of news out there already about this story, so I will not go into much of a rehashing of the general history regarding this development and simply dive right in to the commentary.
For someone who has been in this business as long as I have, to look at “unprofitable operations” for two years begs the question of just what the hell kind of operations were they running to begin with. The answer is an obvious extrapolation we can make from the outcome, they were home media operations and nothing else.
Marital arts libraries in particular tend to be full of titles that, even when bundled together in groups of up to 10 for the price of one, just don’t sell. Also, if you are getting licenses from Toby Russell there are all kinds of other things you may want to worry about (the guy George Tan was working with before Toby, went and got himself cut in half for playing musical licenses with a movie made by a certain group of film aficionados called the Triads).
Moving back to the point at hand, although this may only be compared to the fall of Geneon in America in a bit of an abstract way, the final realization that playing follow the leader with a blind person in front has brought you to a “cut your losses” moment, falls into that general category of business shenanigans. This was a case of a Hollywood mentality being applies to a New York business model, and that’s always a recipe for companies following suit of some “ground breaking” market freeze-frame, without any model which will guarantee continued profits via contingency if the primary goal proves unsustainable. Has the same happened with anime, yes. Will the results be the same… not really. Modern martial arts productions are not really going to slow down. They have a big domestic market (an increasingly media-friendly China), cost very little to produce, and do not depend on international licensing for putting gas in the tank.
The demise of this entity is yet another example of opportunity lost when it comes to older niche material which has exhausted a single product lifecycle (DVD/Home media in this case), but exists in a large library owned by a company with some substantial resources. Unlike many other products, entertainment media need not simply become a drag on resources once it has had its turn as a home media product which fails to cover its own costs (especially this classic martial arts stuff)… There is light at the end of that tunnel and that is where having the right licenses comes in. As I am currently actually involved in such project, I won’t be going into detail of what should be done, because that concept is worth money and is proprietary (to me). Sufficed to say that it doesn’t take a vast array of licenses to produce a vast array of commercially viable material. If you want me to come in and save your assets and make them profitable now without having to lay out much new capital, then let me know, there’s a little piece of paper in the Library of Congress that says I own the way to do it.
"Running water never grows stale, so keep on flowing."