Alain Guiraudie’s stunning, explicit “Stranger By The Lake” (an earlier contender for our favorite theatrically released film of 2014 here at /bent) was all set to hit UK cinemas this weekend via the lovely folks over at Peccadillo Pictures. But then just today UK multiplex chain Cineworld — which had booked “Stranger” for one-off shows for the first weekend of release in 5 theaters — abruptly cancelled its screenings. The reasoning? An anonymous UK film distributor complained about the short window between theatrical and VOD (“Stranger” is out in the UK on VOD on March 7th) because said distributor was apparently denied this in the past.
But Cineworld had given these same one off shows to Peccadillo films “I Want Your Love” and “Keep The Lights On” when the VOD window was much tighter, which makes Cineworld’s decision regarding “Stranger” very problematic. Especially two days before the film was set for release.
“We were then informed — 48 hours before, after publicity had been put in place, listings had been made public and drives of the film had been sent — that the film will be pulled from all the Cineworld sites, due to a singular complaint from an anonymous UK film distributor – who felt it was apparently unfair that we were allowed this,” Peccadillo Pictures Press Manager Droo Padhiar said today.
Padhiar explained that one of the senior film buyers broke the news to Peccadillo this afternoon.
“We are deeply disappointed that a mainstream audience will not be able to access the film opening weekend – but there are still a number of great independent art-house screens including Curzon and Picturehouse supporting the film,” she said. “But we are excited for the release despite this deeply unfair news.”
“Stranger By The Lake” will still be released on 17 screens in art house cinemas in the UK on Friday, but the 5 it lost were the only multiplex locations it had booked, taking away an opportunity to expand to a different demographic of filmgoers. Which is a shame, but all the more reason to find “Stranger” in one of the theaters its still playing in.
Oh, and in case you’re unaware, “Stranger” features a narrative very much like what its title suggests, the film is set at a cruising spot by a lake, where Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) meets Michel (Christophe Paou). Despite being certain Michel is a murderer (he witnesses the man drown one of his lovers), Franck pursues their intense sexual relationship anyway, leading him — and us as the viewer — down a psychologically complex and dangerously sexy path. But not one viewable from multiplexes in the UK this weekend.
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