Picture This! Entertainment and its sister label Picture This! Home Video have shuttered, closing its doors on September 29 according to a message posted to its website. Doug Witkins founded film company DW Diversified 25 years ago and entered the distribution market with off-shoot Picture This! thirteen years ago with a gala launch at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. His aim was licensing North American independent LGBT films to distributors and networks around the world. In 1998, the company established its domestic wing, which has released almost 100 features and shorts theatrically via home entertainment and TV in North America.
The labels championed gay genre films as well as "coming-of-age" stories, including "Garcon Stupide," "Come Undone," "Clara's Summer," and the "Boys Briefs" series. It is unclear as the company navigates bankruptcy court what will be the fate of its library.
I am sad indeed at the recent turn of events," DW Diversified founder Witkins told indieWIRE via email Thursday. "With the company thriving independently for 25+ years, I honestly thought we could continue forever our mission of bringing quality independent feature films and shorts to North American audiences." Witkins said the general state of the economy was to blame, as well as shifts in the general market.
"Major studios can erase an art house division, redouble their efforts in brand development through the establishment of more tentpoles and carry on," added Witkins. "For an independent like us, however, the erasure of art house product leaves nothing on the page. Over the years, I have leaned toward foreign language films because of their higher production value made possible mostly by European film subsidies." He added that the after-DVD market for such titles has become "much tougher to exploit" if a company does not also own its own channel. Though the company has faced these shifts for some time now, it had sought to distinguish its products with special offerings in order to maintain its fanbase.
We established a faithful core of fans who regularly bought our new releases, which were usually chock-full of special features like filmmaker and actor interviews that we created ourselves, in-house. We wanted to provide a quality, collectible product that people would want to keep, and I think we accomplished that."
Witkins also told indieWIRE that he hoped with the shake-ups and shifts still underway, that the kind of films they offered will still be available through new mediums.
"As the filmed entertainment business model now changes to digital, VOD and soon 3-D, I hope there is still a place for foreign, gay and coming-of-age art house product like we brought to market - films that push the envelope, challenge the viewer, and are not afraid to tackle controversy."
Despite the disappointment of heading into bankruptcy, Witkins offered up some thanks with those he has worked with for a quarter-century. "I am very grateful to members of the press, the film festival community, sales agents, producers, actors, theatres, wholesalers, retailers and fans who have supported us throughout the years."