In this strange new moviegoing ecosystem, IFC Films is one indie distributor doing well despite the hurdles of releasing content amid the ongoing pandemic. Not only did the arthouse platform just cross the $2-million mark overall at the drive-in box office with the release of “Relic,” but IFC also is currently in the lead in getting out films to Oscar voters on the Academy’s new screening platform.
Right now, nine films out of 19 contending for Academy eyeballs in the online screening room come from IFC, and they include “Premature,” “Swallow,” “Resistance,” “The Other Lamb,” “True History of the Kelly Gang,” “The Wretched,” “How to Build a Girl,” “The Trip to Greece,” and “Babyteeth.” IFC has had a strong 2020 slate, earning critical buzz and solid VOD returns including for “Relic,” which with drive-in play and digital play combined has earned more than $580,000 since opening on Friday, July 10. Next up, IFC opens Dave Franco’s directorial debut “The Rental.” IFC also houses its titles via its streaming platform, IFC Unlimited.
IFC hasn’t broken big in the Oscar race since 2014’s Best Picture nominee “Boyhood,” which earned six nominations and won Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. While the distributor’s 2020 lineup of titles skew toward the niche, the dearth of new movies at the moment gives IFC a leg up in getting Oscar voters’ early attention. We’re still a long way away from the ceremony, which isn’t happening until April 25 next year.
The screening room is also part of an Academy bid toward more inclusion of foreign and independent fare, which is IFC’s bread and butter. “We want to make the move to online viewing,” Academy President David Rubin told IndieWire last fall. “There’s an endeavor to support the Academy’s efforts at being an international organization: Part of that is to connect with international filmmakers and international audiences. All of the efforts to enable people to see international feature films is with that goal in mind. This has never been the American Academy. While original commercial and popular filmmaking may be essentially American in origin, the motion-picture world is international.”
Other films in the Academy screening room include Universal’s “Trolls World Tour” and “The King of Staten Island,” Bleecker Street’s “The Assistant” and “Military Wives,” Focus Features’ “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” along with Netflix titles such as strong contender “Da 5 Bloods,” “The Willoughbys,” “Crip Camp,” and “The Half of It.”
Anne Thompson contributed reporting.