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‘Love’s’ twin preems: in cinemas, on ‘Net

Low-budget thriller will be made available Sept. 5

LONDON — Billie Eltringham’s “This Is Not a Love Song” will be the first movie to premiere simultaneously in cinemas and on the Internet, according to the U.K. Film Council.

The $500,000 digital thriller, scripted by “The Full Monty” writer Simon Beaufoy and shot in just 12 days, will be made available Sept. 5 for streaming and downloading.

It will premiere in four U.K. arthouse cinemas the same day.

The Film Council’s New Cinema Fund, which bankrolled the pic jointly with Beaufoy, regards the event as an experiment to gauge the potential of the Internet as an alternate distribution route for specialized movies.

“This Is Not a Love Song,” shot two years ago, was always conceived as a movie to be released via the Web. But it has taken this long for technology to become sufficiently advanced to make that possible.

In the meantime, the movie has screened at festivals around the world, starting with Rotterdam early in 2002, and winning some critical plaudits. Wellspring Media picked up U.S. rights from sales agent Celluloid Dreams.

Web surfers will have to pay $3-$5 to see the movie, depending on how they choose to access it. It will be available only to viewers in the U.K.

“This is an R&D project to see what the pickup is,” a Film Council spokesman said. “Because it’s a thriller, it caters to the kind of 18- to 30-year-old males who also tend to be computer geeks. Perhaps this will help the film get some media attention, which it hasn’t had yet, apart from at festivals.”

The New Cinema Fund is putting up about $60,000 to cover the cost of the theatrical and Web release.