The first major UK film to experiment with a day-and-date release was Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross' The Road To Guantanamo in 2006.

Produced by Andrew Eaton, the $3m (£1.5m) film is based on the true story of the 'Tipton Three', a trio of British Muslims who journeyed to a wedding in Pakistan after September 11 and ended up arrested and detained in Guantanamo Bay on suspicion of terrorism.

The film received a simultaneous theatrical, DVD and internet release through Tiscali in March last year, the day after it aired on Channel 4. This went a step further than 2929 Entertainment's US release of Steven Soderbergh's Bubble earlier in 2006, which did not include a simultaneous internet offering.

"With a film like this, we thought it would be better to go with everything else at once," Eaton says.

The project began life just after the three men were released in 2004. Film4 became involved at the development stage but realised that raising traditional film financing might waste valuable time. It was then made as a television project through Channel 4.

The film drew 1.7 million viewers on Channel 4, and Revolution released the film on 34 screens on a combination of film and digital prints, which were screened on the UK Film Council's burgeoning Digital Screen Network. Revolution teamed up with Tony Jones, former head of exhibitor City Screen, to secure theatrical bookings.

All the company will say about the internet downloads, available at $10 (£4.99) to own or $6 (£2.99) to rent, is that they are very pleased with the number of hits received.

The project's TV roots did not have a negative impact on interest from overseas theatrical buyers. Sales company The Works sold it as a theatrical film at the Berlin market last year and, boosted by its Silver Bear win at the festival, deals were struck for countries including Spain, Brazil, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Japan.

The next high-profile UK film to go for simultaneous multi-platform release is likely to be Ken Loach's forthcoming It's A Free World. Produced by Rebecca O'Brien, the film is backed by Film4.

"I think (the multi-platform release) will be very interesting because that's the way to reach the widest number of people," O'Brien says. "We can reach so many people through TV, but at the same time it respects our primary role as film-makers."