Allison Anders' emotionally-wrenching film about theconsequences of rape, Things Behind The Sun,will receive its first commercial outing later this year as a premiere on theShowtime pay-TV network despite winning widespread critical plaudits at thisyear's Sundance Film Festival.
Unable to attract decent enough advances from domestictheatrical distributors, the film's investors appear to have optedinstead for an immediate return from US pay-television by selling the rights topremiere Things Behind The Sunas aShowtime Original Picture.
The deal highlights the commercial dilemmas facing even thebest-received independent feature films, especially when dealing with subjectmatter deemed as tough marketing propositions for cinema audiences. Last year,a similar fate befell Things You Can Tell Just Be Looking At Her, another Sundance premiere that went to straight toShowtime - although it that instance a US theatrical outing had originally beenearmarked through MGM.
"The theatrical marketplace is so scary right now forindependents, and God only knows what it will be like when all the pre-strikefilms are competing for screens. There's no way my film could get the kind ofexposure in that environment that it will have at Showtime," explainedAnders.
"Despite the theatrical interest in this picture comingout of Sundance, in the end I felt that my baby was in the safest hands withShowtime. They not only understand and share my passion for the film, but theyhave outlined a release campaign which will support and nurture Things beyond any hopes I could have in the present climatein a theatrical release. As much as I made this film for myself, I made it foreveryone affected by rape and it relieves me to know that all the people I madethis film for will be able to see it in its Showtime premiere. I feel very,very fortunate."
Starring Kim Dickens, Gabriel Mann, Don Cheadle, Eric Stoltz,Elizabeth Peña, Rosanna Arquette and Patsy Kensit, Anders'semi-autobiographical film centers on the meeting of two people scarred bychildhood rape and their struggle to piece together the past and move on. Itwas co-written by Anders and Kurt Voss, her collaborator on Sugar Town
Anders' uncompromised approach might have scared offtheatrical buyers, but it may have actually served to heighten the film'sappeal to Showtime, which has much of its with its "No Limits" marketingtag-line in order to try to differentiate itself from television rivals. "Theminute we saw Things Behind The Sun atSundance, we knew that its unflinching portrayal of sensitive and controversialsubject matter made it a perfect candidate to make its premiere as a ShowtimeOriginal Picture," says Matthew Duda, Showtime's executive vice president,programme acquisitions and planning.