Web distributor closes window in film bows

In the latest wrinkle in film distribution, Gotham indie Gigantic is launching a website offering $3 streams of features alongside their theatrical debuts.

Akin to IFC’s simultaneous bows in theaters and on VOD, the setup differs from that of Hulu or Snagfilm in that it’s a non-commercial Web effort by a pure film distrib as opposed to an aggregator selling ads against streaming content. It also differs from pay sites like Amazon, Netflix or iTunes because it eliminates the lag between theaters and the Web bow.

The game plan is that review and media attention generated around theatrical engagements in major cities will help fuel online biz, especially in flyover country.

Gigantic Releasing is headed by former Miramax and IFC exec Mark Lipsky, who was lured from Arizona back to Gotham for the gig. Lipsky said Giganticdigital.com will launch this week with two films, Gigantic productions “The Doorman” and “Year of the Fish.” Soon, festival pickups “Must Read After My Death” and “Satellite” will also be available for streaming.

Consumers will pay $2.99 for three days of access to pics. Lipsky did not specify a number of titles the company would aim to release in coming months, but he said service deals and acquisitions would be part of the mix.

Well established as a music label, Gigantic has recently expanded into post-production services under chief exec Brian Devine.

Lipsky, who has segued from showbiz into a Web career in recent years, sees the Gigantic play as uniting the two worlds. “I honestly don’t know if we have the right leverage or the right product yet,” Lipsky said. “But everybody is going to be doing this soon. This is the way things are headed. And the upside if this works is limitless.”

Traditional collections and splits with gross participants will also be transformed, he added, given that filmmakers will get a bigger cut of Gigantic’s take, and the company won’t have to collect from or negotiate with theater owners.

The Web is gaining currency as a distrib outlet. Director Wayne Wang’s “The Princess of Nebraska” set a record for a feature film debut online, racking up 165,000 free views in its first two days on YouTube, its backers said Tuesday.

“The writing has been on the wall for traditional distribution of independent film for a long time,” Devine said. “We are taking a new approach that respects our audiences and bypasses the bottlenecks that have been choking off many indie films from reaching their audiences.”

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