You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Commentary tracks in podcast mode via iTunes

Filmmakers behind 'The Comedy' record offering while movie's still in theaters

Commentary tracks aren’t strictly for homevideo anymore.

For the release of the controversial dramedy “The Comedy,” Tribeca Films paired up with filmmakers Rick Alverson and Tim Heidecker to produce a podcast, available exclusively through Apple’s iTunes store, that gives audiences insight into the making of the movie.

In the past, distributors waited until the release of a DVD or Blu-ray to offer commentary tracks as a way to encourage consumers to buy the discs. But more indies are starting to see the recordings as a marketing tool and inexpensive incentive to boost sales considering it’s free to post a podcast on iTunes or other digital platforms.

“The Comedy” became available on demand on Oct. 24 and has been rolling out in theaters since Nov. 9. It expands its run to 13 locations across the country through Dec. 9.

While the 90-minute podcast is considered bonus content to promote “The Comedy,” Tribeca also saw the commentary as a way for auds to further connect with the film — and encourage second viewings — rather than have to wait until its homevid release.

“It creates a unique viewing opportunity that isn’t normally available in the first release window,” said Neil Marks, Tribeca Films director of marketing.

After the pic played the fest circuit over the past nine months, with screenings followed by Q&As with Alverson and Heidecker, the commentary enables auds to replicate the festival experience and discuss the movie at home since “it’s a very provocative film in the way it uses comedy to push buttons,” Marks said. “The commentary was a way to bring a unique experience to the living room. If there was ever a film that requires additional discourse, it’s this one. It’s such a challenging, polarizing film. The audience (at festivals) enjoyed it, but you could tell they were a little shell-shocked afterward and wanted to talk about the experience.”

In the pic, Heidecker plays a middle-aged Brooklyn hipster who has become restless with his complacent existence and tests the limits of acceptable behavior.

The podcast is meant to be downloaded and listened to as the film unspools, but can be played separately on its own, as well.

While iTunes does not offer up download figures, “The Comedy” podcast ranked 25th among podcasts on Monday, while the film has been selling well among indies.

Alverson and Heidecker recorded the podcast via Skype through their home studio and were given few rules by Tribeca other than not to be libelous or infringe on copyrighted material. No changes were made to the final recording. An earlier version was recorded by the duo while in bed in a hotel room during South by Southwest, but “we thought that was terrible,” said Heidecker, who also produces the “On Cinema” podcast.

“It’s a simple thing to do,” Heidecker said. “The technology exists now where it’s so easy.” In the future, he said, multiple commentary tracks could be recorded for a film, even some by hardcore fans. “It’s a really fun enhancement to the experience,” he added. “When the movie is really small and needs all the help it can get, this can be a natural fit,” especially as people buy fewer and fewer DVDs.

Their podcast isn’t the only commentary track available for a film playing in theaters. Rian Johnson also recorded one for “Looper” to encourage repeat viewing. Tribeca is now considering simultaneous commentary tracks for other upcoming releases.

“We’re not a studio,” Marks said. “It’s an interesting tactic and has been successful so far. But it needs to be right for the right film. We really want to challenge consumers and if there are ways we can give them a deeper experience that’s what we’re here for.”

More Film

  • Japan's Toei Animation Teams With Saudi's

    Japan's Toei Animation Teams With Saudi's Manga Productions on 'The Journey'

    In an industry-building effort for Saudi Arabia, new Saudi animation studio Manga Productions has teamed up with Japan’s Toei Animation on a $10 million to $15 million animation feature titled “The Journey,” an epic based on Saudi folklore to be directed by Shizuno Kobun, whose credits include “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle.”  Manga [...]

  • 'Joan of Arc' Review: Bruno Dumont's

    Cannes Film Review: 'Joan of Arc'

    You have to hand it to Bruno Dumont, France’s dark prince of dour auteurism: He never makes the same film twice, even when he does, to all intents and purposes, make the same film twice. Two years ago, he offered his own singular contribution to cinema’s well-stocked canon of Joan of Arc dramas: As a [...]

  • Rosie Day, Harriet Sanson Harris, Natalia

    Rosie Day, Harriet Sanson Harris, Natalia Tena Set For Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s Thriller ‘Baby’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES– Rosie Day (“Outlander”), Harriet Sanson Harris (“Phantom Thread”) and Natalia Tena (“Game of Thrones”) will star in Spaniard Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s psychological thriller “Baby,” Variety has learned exclusively. The project will be pitched on May 19 at Fantastic 7, a new Cannes initiative seeing seven of the world’s most prestigious fantastic festivals back and [...]

  • Polish Fest’s Industry Event Presents Upcoming

    New Horizons’ Polish Days Goes to Cannes With Five Films in Progress

    CANNES  —  Buoyed by a wave of international successes, including Pawel Pawlikowski’s 2019 foreign-language Oscar nominee “Cold War,” Polish cinema will get a fitting showcase Sunday morning with the presentation of five new projects at New Horizons’ Polish Days Goes to Cannes. Organized in conjunction with the Polish Film Institute, Polish Days is the most important [...]

  • Cannes, Annecy Animation Day Hosts ‘Bob

    Coala to Pitch ‘Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People’ at Cannes, Annecy Animation Day

    São Paulo-based Coala Filmes impressed in the series competition at last year’s Annecy Intl. Film Festival with an episode of their popular stop-motion series “Angeli the Killer,” based on the famous comics of the Brazilian comic-book writer of the same name. This year, the film’s director Cesar Cabral and producer Ivan Melo are participating in [...]

  • Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $100 Million

    Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $100 Million Film Fund Launches

    CANNES  —  Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $100 million private film fund Kinoprime is ready for business, the fund’s CEO, Anton Malyshev, said in Cannes this week. Financed to the tune of $100 million over the next three years, the fund can provide up to 50% of a film’s production budget, with a $2 million cap [...]

  • Russian Helmer of Blockbuster ‘Stalingrad’ Looks

    Russia’s Fedor Bondarchuk Unveils Four New Films in Cannes

    CANNES  —  Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk introduced four new productions from his Art Pictures Studio Saturday in Cannes, including “Attraction 2,” the sequel to his 2017 sci-fi blockbuster. The invitation-only showcase at the Gray d’Albion hotel also unveiled footage from three new features that Bondarchuk is either directing or producing. Sci-fi thriller “Sputnik” is the story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content