Revolution Films is planning a simultaneous UK theatrical, DVD, andInternet release for Michael Winterbottom's The Road To Guantanamo, which will haveits world premiere Tuesday in Berlin's competition.
The move goes one stepfurther than 2929 Entertainment's US release of Steven Soderbergh's Bubble on Jan 27, which didn't include a simultaneousInternet offering.
Guantanamo was commissioned by UK broadcaster Channel 4, whichwill air it on March 9. The followingday, the film will open in theatres and be available for sale in shops oronline.
Revolution is teaming up with Tony Jones, former head of exhibitor CityScreen, on the theatrical bookings.
Producer Andrew Eaton, who founded Revolution with Winterbottom, hopesthat The Road to Guantanamo will play on 20-30 screens, and says that theyplan to show on "as many digital screens as possible" through the UK FilmCouncil's burgeoning Digital Screen Network. The Internet deal is beingfinalised on with Tiscali.
"With a film like this that's starting with what would traditionally bethe last outlet - a television broadcast - we thought itwould be better to go with everything else at once," Eaton said.
Winterbottom was still in the UK putting the final touches on dubbingand subtitling before coming to Berlin. "What we'll screen on Tuesday will bethe final film," Eaton said. "We'll do a run through of it on Monday night at 1am."
The $2.6m (£1.5m) drama is based on the true story of the Tipton Three,British Muslims who journey to a wedding in Pakistan after September 11 andended up as suspected terrorists and detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
The film-makers (including co-director Mat Whitecross) shot the film inPakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
Eaton and Winterbottom started to develop the project after the TiptonThree were released in 2004. FilmFour became involved in that development stagebut realized that raising traditional film financing might waste valuabletime.
"It seemed so urgent that we just get started," says Tessa Ross, whooverseas drama for both FilmFour and Channel 4. "The story just seems soincredibly current. If we did it as a television project, we could fullyfinance it quickly and it also gets the most immediate and impactful audiencethrough TV - it will really get a big whack with an audience."
The project's TV roots don't seem to be hurting buying interest fortheatrical deals. "We're definitely selling it as a theatrical film. Therehave been a lot of buyers really looking forward to seeing it," says JoyWong from the film's sales company, The Works. "Expectations seem to behigh."
Eaton also produced the Berlinale's opening-night film, Snow Cake, and said thatthe festival seemed like a natural fit for The Road to Guantanamo. "We came herewith In This World (which won the Golden Bear in 2003), so Berlin seemswell suited to political films," he said.
Revolution and Channel 4/FilmFour have an ongoing relationship. "We'reworking with Michael and Andrew on a number of projects," Ross says. One is aTV series based on David Peace's Red Riding series of novels and theother is a film drama set in Manchester. Eaton notes that Winterbottom hasseveral projects being developed, but wasn't sure what the next film to shootwould be.