Wild Bunch’s e-cinema strategy
by Fabien Lemercier
- Cineuropa takes a closer look at the unprecedented launch of The Keeper of Lost Causes on VoD tomorrow and The Absent One in theatres on 27 March
We met up with Grégory Strouk, managing director of Wild Side, the video subsidiary of Wild Bunch, to analyse the official launch of the e-cinema service introduced by the Paris-based mini-major with a pan-European presence (in France, Germany, Italy and Spain). This highly original distribution strategy is making its debut in France with the Department Q franchise (an adaptation of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s bestsellers), courtesy of two films by Mikkel Nørgaard: The Keeper of Lost Causes [+see also:
interview: Eugenio Mira
film profile] (read the review), which comes out tomorrow (Friday 27 March) exclusively on VoD; and The Absent One [+see also:
film profile] (read the news), which will be released in theatres on 8 April by Wild Bunch Distribution (headed by Thierry Lacaze).
Grégory Strouk: “The huge buzz from that first trial with Welcome to New York [+see also:
film profile] made the project seem a bit unusual, whereas our idea was simply to measure the impact of a purely VoD release for a film that was eagerly awaited in the cinemas. Broadly speaking, for Wild Bunch it’s about developing another model for independent films that we defend as a distributor. Today, the majority of independent movies, particularly foreign ones, which take between 100,000 and 300,000 theatrical admissions in France find it hard to reach their audience, and it is often difficult to keep them showing in cinemas for more than two weeks. It’s really frustrating for distributors, from both a film lover’s and an economic point of view. Seeing how the Welcome to New York experiment demonstrated how much expectation could also be generated in the digital sphere, Wild Bunch therefore decided to put together a real e-cinema strategy and a line-up, by painstakingly selecting films that we think would be best exhibited via a direct-to-digital release.
“The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One are a true franchise, a successful adaptation of a series of books, with other films set to come along later. The two films are of the same standard, with the same director, the same actors, the same ingredients: it was therefore the perfect choice from the point of view of building up a model that it was still difficult to outline clearly. Because the pitfall would be to think: what is it that makes a film released via e-cinema stand out from another coming out direct to VoD, as we’ve seen happen very often with mediocre films? The two Danish movies offer a real solution to this because The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One are two films that have real cinematic quality. The new distribution model that we’re offering is not inferior to that of the cinema. It’s true that you don’t get that theatrical experience, but the quality of the film is never called into question.
“With a release via e-cinema, we have access to television media, one of the most effective media in order to transform actions into VoD because it enables you to communicate through images, which is the best way to convince people, and it allows you to watch the film straight away. The promotional campaign for The Keeper of Lost Causes is getting under way at almost exactly the same time as the film is made available online, so ten days before the theatrical release of The Absent One, which is the average length of time you need for teasing a film that is coming out in theatres. We are hoping that there will be a knock-on effect, with the PR created by the first film boosting the second. It’s as if we had just one campaign with The Keeper of Lost Causes that talks about the Department Q universe, which therefore becomes a franchise with a base upon which we can communicate. Because alongside that, the poster and trailer campaign for The Absent One then kicks off in theatres. All of this will build up a reputation that can be of benefit to both films. The advertising campaign cost €1.8 million.
“Our aim is to measure the different target markets, assess the impact of this investment in advertising and launch a new distribution model. We hope to adopt a pace that will allow us to create a real “e-cinema corner” on VoD services that differs from classic VoD. That’s the key issue: we want the public to understand that these are films having their exclusive premiere in people’s homes, just as they would in a movie theatre, and it’s not like classic VoD, with a release four months after they come out in theatres. We have planned five other e-cinema releases before the end of the year, and from 2016 onwards, we intend to release one film every month via e-cinema. But let’s not forget that this won’t affect the blockbusters, which will be sticking with the traditional theatres-video-TV model. It’s therefore not a complete revolution of the model, but rather a targeted revolution aimed at independent films that need to find their audience.”
(Translated from French)