Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The End of CasaNegra
The first word came on the DVD Maniacs message board on August 12. Poster Thomas Hart informed the board that he heard from Synapse honcho Don May Jr at the Horrorfind Convention that Panik House and its sub-label CasaNegra Entertainment were out of business. News spread quickly to other message boards, and the news was confirmed on the Classic Horror Film Board, where Monsters From the Vault publisher Jim Clatterbaugh, who is preparing a special Mexican horror-themed issue of his magazine, admitted that he knew about CasaNegra's troubles for a while, but needed to keep silent.
I saw this coming for several months--first when I saw this in a NY Times article on niche DVD companies:
As independent retailers dwindle, larger chains focused more on mainstream titles seem to “control and set the arbitrary taste for the entire market,” said Matt Kennedy, former president of Panik House Entertainment, which specializes in international genre movies like “The Curse of the Crying Woman” and “The Pinky Violence Collection. Not getting a title into one of these stores can be the death of a small label, but so can getting one in. If you get an order for 40,000 titles and only sell 4,000 because it was left boxed in the back, misfiled by category or never entered into inventory, it can mean bankruptcy.”
Aside from the despairing information, I noted that Matt Kennedy was now the "former president" of Panik House. Something clearly was up.
Then, the remaining head of the company, Michael Liuzza, posted a message on the Latarnia boards stating that CasaNegra should not be thought of as just a company releasing Mexican horror films, that it's aims were wider, and hinting that future product would reflect this.
I knew what that signified: Despite all the acclaim, CasaNegra's Mexican horror releases had not been as successful in the marketplace as hoped. They were, in fact, money losers when taking into account how much they cost to acquire from their rights owner, Alameda Films. Michael's statement about the label expanding had a feeling of a prospectus to me, and I easily pictured such a thing being planned out to save a small DVD company in trouble.
I have heard recently that Michael was indeed trying to find investors to breathe life back into CasaNegra. It seems that effort has failed.
This leaves two films waiting in the wings--The World of the Vampires and The Living Head. While one shouldn't cry about not seeing the latter film actualized as a definitive DVD, the former is one of the wildest and most entertaining rides in the Mexican horror filmography.
I think there is still a possibility, however slim, that CasaNegra may rise again. One shouldn't give up hope. And, unless CasaNegra never acquired the elements for Vampires and Living Head, it still could be possible for the company to sell the films to another company (taking a loss, of course), who could then issue them on DVD.
Various questions arise out of the failure of CasaNegra. I'll try to address these in my next post.
Posted by Mirek at 4:02 PM