As 2929 Entertainment prepares to launch its experimentalday-and-date release of Steven Soderbergh's hi-def picture Bubble this week, IFC has entered the fray witha similar initiative.
This year the New York-based company plans to simultaneouslyrelease in theatres and on cable 24 pictures that would typically struggle inthe cut-throat and overcrowded world of mainstream distribution.
Called "First Take", the scheme is scheduled to kick off in March.Speaking at a press conference in Park City on Monday, IFC Entertainmentpresident Jonathan Sehring said the first six titles would be: Hou HsiaoHsien's Taiwanese Cannes 2005 competition entry Three Times, Cedric Klapisch's French-UK title RussianDolls, Aric Avelino's AmericanGun, Jeff Stanzler's InDigEntpicture Sorry, Haters,Kevin Willmott's CSA: Confederate States Of America, and Caveh Zahedi's I Am A Sex Addict.
The pictures will go out theatrically on the IFC Centres' threescreens and through other exhibitors, although the 2929-owned Landmark Theatreschain is understood to be adopting a case-by-case approach to the "First Take"slate. Larger chains like Regal and AMC have refused to carry the releases.
At the same time "First Take" titles will be available to cablesubscribers through video-on-demand. "It's been difficult to make a go ofa lot of movies theatrically," Sehring said, adding later: "Thetheatrical experience isn't going to go away. We built a movie theatre so itwouldn't go away."
"We'll be able to pick up things that we wouldn't normallyhave been able to pick up," vice president of acquisitions Sarah Lashsaid. "There wasn't room on our 12-picture theatrical slate to pick upeverything but now we can handle films that wouldn't otherwise get theexposure."
Sehring said DVD releases would follow the simultaneous theatricaland video on demand platform, but didn't anticipate any damaging impact."It's our experience with these movies that the audiences that want to ownthese titles will go out and own them. It may have some effect on the rentalmarket."
Celluloid Dreams sales chief Charlotte Mickie, who recently sold ThreeTimes to IFC, said shewould monitor how the scheme unfolded. "Some of the bigger films will goto the more conventional distributors and there's scope for the morechallenging ones to with a programme like this," she said. "It'sgoing to be an interesting learning curve."
Sehring addedthat IFC had been in discussions with partners regarding global day-and-datereleasing with differential pricing, an idea originally floated by SonyPictures Entertainment co-vice chairman and digital supremo Yair Landau.However Sehring said for now the company was excited about focusing on itsfledgling US plan.