BitTorrent Crowd Swarms Over 'Arthur Newman'

File-sharing app users download 1 million clips in five days prior to pic’s premeire

In less than five days, BitTorrent users worldwide pulled down more than 1 million copies of a 10-minute preview of Cinedigm-distributed “Arthur Newman,” which opens in limited release Friday.

Studio last week announced promotional pact with the file-sharing software firm — long a bête noire of Hollywood and other content industries, many of which still view BitTorrent as facilitating rampant piracy.

Cinedigm pact could be start of shift in that perception, as BitTorrent offers a base of 170 million active users monthly. The 1 million-plus “Arthur Newman” downloads via the app compare with just under 20,000 views of studio’s official trailer on YouTube over the past three weeks.

Cinedigm marketing chief Jill Newhouse Calcaterra touted early results from BitTorrent tie-up as “phenomenal,” noting indies rarely hit 2 million trailer views on YouTube over their entire lifespan.

“We feel that it will pay off, both in our limited release this weekend, but also importantly in all the downstreams, where the majority of revenue is generated,” she said.

A source at a major studio, though, characterized the project as a marketing stunt rather than something that would fundamentally change the biz, adding that BitTorrent’s “’we hope the studios catch up to our new way of looking at the world’ smugness is off-putting.”

Of those who downloaded and watched the “Arthur Newman” preview, 20% clicked on link to Cinedigm’s site for the pic, according to BitTorrent marketing veep Matt Mason. BitTorrent’s “Arthur Newman” package, promoted on company’s website and directly in the download app, also includes 52 set photos and a high-res movie poster.

“A year ago, we weren’t having a ton of conversations” with studios or music labels, Mason said. “Now we’re talking to everyone. We can bring the fans. Now we have to make it work for content creators.”

No money is changing hands under the Cinedigm-BitTorrent deal. San Francisco-based BitTorrent generates revenue through display ads in software client as well as from selling ad-free premium versions.

While BitTorrent is trying to change how Hollywood sees file-sharing platform, the software remains — and will continue to be — a primary way Internet users pilfer films and TV shows, as well as music, software, games and more. Those pirated files, however, are independent of the content BitTorrent seeds through its own official tracker.

“Arthur Newman” stars Colin Firth and Emily Blunt. Firth plays Wallace Avery, a depressed divorced dad who fakes his own death, fashions a new identity and meets a troubled woman (Blunt) on a cross-country road trip. Pic directed by first-time helmer Dante Ariola and written by Becky Johnston (“Prince of Tides” and “Seven Years in Tibet”).

Cinedigm acquired U.S. distribution rights to “Arthur Newman” last November, two months after premiere at Toronto Film Festival. Pic debuted April 18 in L.A. Film was produced by Vertebra Films and Cross Creek Pictures.

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