Media Blasters made the announcement this week that they have struck a deal with Allegro Media (a small entertainment media firm that hasn't updated the news section of their website since January) to handle sales and distribution of all Media Blasters Anime and movie labels starting in December. That includes everything published under the Anime Works, Tokyo Shock, and their other live action movie labels. Interestingly, Kitty (their adult Anime line and no doubt their most profitable) will remain in house and will not go out to Allegro.
Most of you guys probably don't know this, but Media Blasters closed up their New Jersey distribution warehouse over the summer (and sadly layed off all the staff there), and outsourced all of their retailer fulfillment to Brand X's wholesale warehousing and shipping service. That was shortly after they shut down their manga division. This transition has been one of the big causes of all the MB backorders and stockouts since July. Now, it seems, they will be moving their inventory again out to Allegro's warehouse over the next few weeks - all of this going on during the busiest selling season of the year. While MB was making a lot of promises to us back in September that weren't filled , I now expect the major stockouts and shortages to last well into January, which can't been good - especially over the holiday selling season.
Regarding the move, John Sirabella (President of Media Blasters) said that this arrangement:
"frees up Media Blasters to focus on localizing properties for the US market, developing new features and series, and producing the highest possible quality DVD, Blu-ray, and digitally distributed releases."
Really? And it has nothing to do with cost cutting due to declining revenue and market share? We'll, no one can ever say THAT publicly - except me - it seems. I've been around this business for a LONG time, and have seen a lot of Anime companies come and go. One thing I would make an observation about is that when a studio outsources their retailer fulfillment, it just means they are trying to cut costs, but when they outsource the outside sales function too, it usually means the company is either going down the tubes, or is no longer planning to pursue that aspect of the business. If you are interested in staying in the Anime business, you keep your sales function IN HOUSE. Period.
We were informed of Media Blasters deal with Allegro last Friday afternoon, before it went public on Monday. I was tempted to fire off a quick blog post to 'break' the news, but I decided to hold off for a few days - frankly because it was a little depressing and I just didn't feel like writing about it at the time. At the end of the day, I hope Media Blasters is not ending up just another casualty of the R1 downturn. Hopefully this is not the case.
Nowadays, MB is the only company left with the guts to license titles like Kanokon or Queens Blade. Come on John, stay with us man, the Anime community needs you.