The release of a new film from Steven Soderbergh should be a fairly big deal. As should the not-quite-original but still very rare decision to premiere a film online several weeks before it hits theaters.
Yet there’s no apparent promotion going on around “The Girlfriend Experience,” Soderbergh’s tittilating new feature about a high-end call girl involved with politicians that is became available to rent at Amazon.com last Thursday, three weeks before it’s in theaters. I only found out about it through a Gizmodo link.
It seems like a pretty big deal that this is the only place you can find the film. Yet there’s just one small link to it very far down Amazon’s video-on-demand section page (and nothing on the main home page). And with the exception of the words “pre-theatrical rental” in the title bar, the film page doesn’t even mention that the movie isn’t out in theaters (it even incorrectly states that the movie was released on Jan. 1).
Combine that with a higher-than-average $9.99 price to rent it for three days (understandable since it’s pre-release, but still higher than most of us are used to paying to rent a film for our computers or, if we have the right device, televisions) and it’s no surprise that the film is only #61 on Amazon’s charts and has exactly zero customer reviews.
It’s hard to understand what distributor Magnolia Films is thinking here. If you’re going to break the rules, piss of a bunch of big theater chains, and try to reshape the way entertainment is distributed, why not make a stink about it? There’s nothing worse than rebelling in a way that people don’t notice, or even care.