Abel Ferrara and theatrical distribution mix like oil and water. His films always seem to be hard to find on the big screen, usually slotted with a smaller distributor who doesn’t expand his films beyond the few screens they manage to snag in New York City and Los Angeles. And for his latest, “Welcome To New York,” French producers The Wild Bunch are forgoing a theatrical release entirely.
The company has decided that Ferrara’s latest will be going straight to VOD in France, and the company views the exercise as an experiment they hope will pay off. “We’ve wanted to experiment with online distribution for some time and ‘Welcome To New York’ – which is one of the most anticipated films of the year in France – seemed a perfect opportunity,” Wild Bunch co-chief Vincent Maraval told Screen Daily. “Up until now, people have experimented with smaller films but we said if we really want to know the true potential of online distribution, we needed to try with one of our strongest titles, otherwise we’ll never know.”
“We don’t like the term VOD and prefer instead Ecinema. The promotional campaign, costing some $1m, will be on a par with a theatrical one, even bigger. We’ll be doing posters, trailers and TV ads. It will be a proper release, a bit like how RADiUS brought out ‘Bachelorette‘ in the US,” he continued.
Okay, so it’s a roll of the dice, but admittedly, one that could work. Gerard Depardieu has the lead role in the flick that tells the tale of the disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss Kahn. And depending on what happens in the next few weeks, the movie could get an even bigger boost.
According to the trade, Cannes Film Festival honcho Thierry Fremaux is seeing the final cut of the movie next week, and is keeping the option open to include it in the Official Selection (and it should be noted there are one or two Competition slots still up for grabs). And if that happens? Maraval wants to drop the movie online right after the premiere, where anyone with 7 euros can watch it themselves.
So, no theatrical for Ferrara in France, but it seems “Welcome To New York” is going to be available to much more people, all at the same time. As for a stateside release, no one has picked up the movie just yet.