Several bells and whistles for IFC pics

Several titles from the IFC Films library will be getting the full bells-and-whistles treatment on Blu-ray and DVD, thanks to a deal between IFC and top-shelf homevid distrib the Criterion Collection.

The first two — Arnaud Desplechin’s French family drama “A Christmas Tale” and Matteo Garrone’s Naples-set gangster ensemble “Gomorrah” — had appeared on the Criterion site as November releases, but IFC confirmed Tuesday a larger partnership between the two companies.

In recent years, IFC has bowed films on-demand the same day they premiered in theaters, with DVDs available exclusively through Blockbuster, leaving no sell-through opportunity.

Earlier this summer, the company announced a partnership with MPI Media Group to release genre titles such as “Sauna” and “Fear(s) of the Dark” in bare-bones editions, while reserving the right to cherry-pick its more acclaimed titles for the full “collector’s edition” treatment with Criterion.

Criterion, which specializes in extras-rich special editions of classic and contemporary films, has released pics by directors including Wes Anderson, Steven Soderbergh and Michael Bay.

In December, Criterion will put out Soderbergh’s two-part biopic “Che” on both DVD and Blu-ray, followed by 2010 releases of pics from Sweden (Jan Troell’s “Everlasting Moments”), France (Olivier Assayas’ “Summer Hours,” Abdellatif Kechiche’s “The Secret of the Grain”), the U.K. (Steve McQueen’s “Hunger”) and Japan (Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s “Still Walking”).

IFC will decide on a case-by-case basis which films are best suited to go either the Criterion or MPI route, though Lisa Schwartz, exec veep of sales and business development, acknowledged that the promise of a Criterion homevid release could sweeten future distribution deals.

“The Criterion name provides a tremendous amount of credibility and prestige, and knowing IFC has a working relationship with Criterion could give us an edge in negotiations,” she said.

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