Country Focus: France
Wild Bunch plans pan-European E-distribution
by Birgit Heidsiek
- Paris-based sales and distribution company Wild Bunch intends to roll out the first pan-European E-distribution service. The planned approach is to release event movies via day-and-date whenever legally possible, or alternatively via VoD only. With Wild Bunch Distribution and Wild Side in France, BiM Distribuzione in Italy, Vértigo Films in Spain, and Wild Bunch Germany as well as the recent acquisition of Senator in Germany, Wild Bunch has a growing distribution network.
The company has already gained experience with simultaneous distribution in Europe as part of the Speed Bunch group, which participated in the European Parliament's preparatory action entitled “Circulation of European Films in the Digital Era”. In autumn 2013, Speed Bunch released Ken Loach's documentary The Spirit of '45 [+see also:
film profile] simultaneously in theatres and via VoD in Belgium, Italy and Spain; altogether, this generated almost 22,000 cinemagoers and 3,400 VoD transactions. While the day-and-date release is not legally possible in France and Germany, with The Spirit of ‘45, Speed Bunch generated nearly 800 further VoD transactions on platforms such as iTunes, and on Orange, SFR, Google and others in France.
Another title handled by Wild Bunch, Abel Ferrara's controversial Welcome to New York [+see also:
film profile], which had its world premiere at Cannes this year, was downloaded around 200,000 times in the first six weeks. For its new pan-European E-distribution operation, the French outfit has picked up the American cannibal adventure-horror-thriller The Green Inferno by Eli Roth. Further titles for this distribution method are set to be acquired at the upcoming American Film Market.
With the E-distribution concept, Wild Bunch aims to completely remove the theatrical windows in Europe and release movies simultaneously on various VoD platforms. In the European film industry, the day-and-date release and single online VoD market are hot topics at the moment. “UK film distributors would certainly wish for a little more flexibility over digital release windows in today’s converged media world,” pointed out David Puttnam, president of the Film Distributors’ Association, at its latest conference. “The typically uniform period of theatrical exclusivity is now being referred to openly – albeit to my mind rather too casually – as ‘the piracy window’.”
In view of the upcoming copyright reform, the British film politician is appealing to the European Commission to tread carefully as it pushes onwards with the digital single market. “A truly nuanced approach to territoriality, allowing a myriad of individual release plans to flourish, is absolutely essential and is ultimately in audiences’ best interests,” concluded Puttnam.