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Canuck distrib bows new release format

Mongrel to simul-preem foreign pix on multiple platforms

Arthouse distrib Mongrel Media announced Wednesday that it will simul-preem foreign pics on multiple platforms, a groundbreaking move in Canada where the VOD market has not developed as it has south of the border.

Pics will be released theatrically on Thursdays in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary and begin streaming the same day on Netflix. The DVD release and broadcast on (premium pay TV) Superchannel will happen early the following week, with Air Canada screening pics on flights within a month of their theatrical bow.

The release format kicks off today with Romanian compilation film “Tales From the Golden Age.”

Mia Hansen-Love’s “The Father of My Children,” Margarethe von Trotta’s “Vision” and Carlos Saura’s “I, Don Giovanni” will open this year, and five more are slated for the first half of 2011.

“All of these films have done well in the festival context, but the missing link is the business model,” said Mongrel president Hussain Amarshi. “Given the current market, it has been increasingly difficult to justify stand-alone releases.”

Amarshi said while traditional releases still work for most of Mongrel’s titles (including Sony Pictures Classics films, which Mongrel has distributed exclusively in Canada since 2001), the new format is something the company has been trying to get off the ground for some time.

“Finding the right partners was key,” Amarshi said, adding that the recent arrival of Netflix in Canada and the launch of TIFF Bell Lightbox arthouse cinemas in Toronto last month were the final pieces of the puzzle.

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