It’s a question that’s been buzzing around Hollywood: Who is Joe Bretz and what in the world does he want with Image Entertainment, an old line video distributor, in the age of YouTube?
Here’s the puzzling answer: The 34-year-old former fashion model turned movie producer has visions of becoming the latest Hollywood mogul taking advantage of online distribution channels.
“I can tell you this. Nobody knows, not even Image, the full extent of what we have planned,” said Bretz, the founder, chief executive and majority owner of San Francisco-based Q Black Media LLC. His Nyx Acquisitions subsidiary made a $100 million offer last month for the Chatsworth home entertainment distributor in a deal yet to be approved by stockholders.
The $2.75 per share price was close to four times as much as the company’s closing stock price on Nov. 21, the day the deal was announced. But it’s far below a $4 per share offer from Lions Gate Entertainment that Image turned down two years ago when Image’s business was more highly valued.
Indeed, on the surface it’s hard to see exactly what Bretz sees in Image, whose core value lies in its library of more than 4,000 movies and music titles mostly low-budget urban and thriller film fare, as well as older popular television shows sold at major retail outlets.
Q Black Media is a private company focused on producing live concerts for television, film production and Internet technology. Q Black has produced two films, both starring comedian Rob Schneider a business Bretz said that he plans to step up once the Image acquisition is completed.
Bretz claims Q Black’s strong suit, however, is its ties with Silicon Valley technology gurus such as Ralph Guggenheim, chief executive of Alligator Planet LLC, which makes animated movies and is a consultancy for social media Web companies.
A teen fashion model, Bretz studied criminal justice for a short time at the University of Wisconsin. But he got his career traction in San Francisco where he worked developing graphics for Progressive Gaming International Corp., a publicly traded slot machine gaming company.