PARIS — The Cannes Film Festival is the latest among festivals giving viewers a chance to watch fest titles at home, with a VOD preview planned for Jean-Luc Godard’s “Socialism” before its Cannes premiere.
In the past few months the Sundance, South by Southwest and Tribeca fests have all made titles available either online or via VOD in an attempt to widen the potential audience for festival fare.
French distrib Wild Bunch will show the film on its FilmoTV cable VOD channel May 17 and 18 before its May 18 premiere in Un Certain Regard, for a fee of E 7 ($9.30).
The preview, which will be available only to viewers in France, marks a major step into digital distribution for the venerable French fest.
Like many independent film distribs, Wild Bunch is exploring new ways to deliver content, reduce P&A and cut through the release clutter, said Wild Bunch general director Brahim Chioua, adding that he plans to do the same for future art pic releases.
“We’re looking to get the word out among film lovers, build up a buzz and trigger wider interest in Godard’s work before the French theatrical bow on May 19,” Chioua said.
Godard, a relentless cinema experimenter, has already “leaked” an accelerated 4-minute version of “Socialism” on Youtube.
This is likely to stir controversy among local exhibitors, who rely on a four-month window of exclusivity, laid out by Gaul’s government-mandated release schedule.
Last year, Paris-based Memento Films was flooded with protests from angry exhibitors after releasing Cherien Dabis’ “Amreeka” for free online to the first 10,000 viewers two days before the theatrical bow. Under pressure, Memento suspended the offer after seven hours.
Eric Lagesse, topper of distribution company Pyramide, says he worries that even if Wild Bunch’s VOD preview isn’t free, it might still reduce cinema attendance and discourage arthouse exhibitors.