With many old-school distributors worrying how new technologies could eat into their theatrical models, it is safe to say a company like Film Movement has all its bases covered.
The New York-based firm launched in early 2003 with the unique proposition of distributing one arthouse film per month on DVD to subscribers across the US - of genuine significance if you are a foreign-film lover in remote Wyoming, hundreds of miles from the nearest cinema. The DVD-of-the-month club is still going strong, but Film Movement's business has since become more diversified.
'The club was not growing at the rate we had hoped, and our films were not reaching as wide an audience as these films deserved, so four years ago we decided we needed to become a full-service distribution company,' says Adley Gartenstein, who joined the company in 2003 and now serves as president and CEO.
Full service indeed: the company now works with theatrical, institutional, television, DVD retail, rental, in-flight (with Continental Airlines) and on-demand distribution.
'We pride ourselves on how nimble we are,' Gartenstein says. For instance, the company's ad-sponsored VoD channel, Film Festival On Demand, launched 18 months ago and reaches about 8 million households. And Film Movement has also launched a transactional VoD model as of October 1 - available through Verizon. Other plans include launching its own direct-to-consumer online distribution platform for its library of 75 features and 75 shorts.
'The section of the business that's most profitable today might be different in six months, we're not staying static because release patterns of films change constantly,' Gartenstein says.
The diversified business is growing. Film Movement is backed by a handful of private investors and although Gartenstein will not disclose specific financial results, he will say 'we're doing better than we've ever done before'.
Film Movement buys 12 titles a year, but could ramp that up soon: 'The club is limited to 12 titles a year but we could buy titles that we do as theatrical, VoD and retail DVD,' Gartenstein says.
'In general, this sector of indie and foreign films are not doing that well because of an overabundance of product being shown in theatres. We think we continue to do well because of our high standards of the titles we take on.'
Each year, Film Movement nabs some of the hottest titles from the festival circuit for US distribution (about 70% of its acquisitions are foreign-language projects).
Recent releases include Days And Clouds, The Grocer's Son, XXY and Ben X and the forthcoming slate includes The Trap, Under The Bombs, The Country Teacher, In Love We Trust and Eldorado.
The company scouts about 1,000 films per year, but only those proving worthy of the festival circuit. 'We can use these reputable film festivals as a weeding-out process,' Gartenstein says. Its curators include the likes of Richard Pena from the Film Society of Lincoln Center and New York Film Festival and ex-Sundance and Miami programmer Nicole Guillemet.
As a lean company with 13 full-time staff and a busy release slate, one way to ensure success is to buy only films they love. Gartenstein says: 'We all work so hard for every release, so the only way that works is if you believe in each film.'