PARIS– Wild Bunch is set to host a special screening of Abel Ferrara’s highly anticipated “Welcome to New York,” starring Gerard Depardieu as a political figure reminiscent of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, outside of the official selection.

Paris-based powerhouse Wild Bunch will be orchestrating a massive digital release of Ferrara’s film on every major French platform — bypassing a theatrical launch –and is staging a day-and date release across multiple territories, notably Spain and Italy, on May 17.

“When we released the teaser last year in Cannes, it got pirated everywhere, so we understood that firstly, the anticipation surpassed our expectations and secondly, that this film was going to be the target of pirates. We realized it was the perfect film to experiment with this type of release: We’ll get to target the widest possible audiences at a faster pace, with a smaller investment than theatrical, and we’ll be able to limit risks of piracy, and preserve some kind of curiosity around the movie before the press starts unveiling what’s in it,” Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Maraval told Variety.

Added Maraval: “Releasing it theatrically would have been extremely expensive because it’s a film we had planned to release on 600 prints. And it didn’t make sense to spend so much in P&A to release a film in theaters when we knew from the start that French TV channels, including Canal Plus, wouldn’t buy it because of self-censorship.”

Wild Bunch will put 1 million Euros ($1.4 million) into the French digital bow, and will be able to advertise on TV, a practice which is forbidden for theatrical releases.

Underscoring the vast media attention and anticipation from distributors that the movie has sparked since being first announced, Wild Bunch has nearly pre-sold it worldwide. It was picked up for Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay (IFA Cinema), Brazil (Imovision), Canada (Remstar Films), Central America, Colombia (Babilla Cine), Czech Republic, Slovak Republic (Hollywood Classic), English-speaking Africa (Videovision Enterprises), Germany, German-speaking Europe (Wild Bunch Germany), Iceland (Green Light), Italy (Bim Distribuzione), Middle East (Teleview), Poland (SPI International), Portugal, Portuguese-speaking Africa (Zon Lusomundo), Romania (Independenta Film), Spain (Vertigo Films), Albania, the Balkans (Investacommerce), Turkey, Turkish-Speaking Cyprus (Yeni Bir Film), the U.K. (Altitude Films), the Baltics (Must Kasi 2 OU), Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands (U-Dream) and the U.S. (IFC In Theaters).

In Cannes, Depardieu and co-star Jacqueline Bisset will be on hand to speak to international media at a special press conference.

Co-written by Ferrara and Chris Zois, “New York” toplines Depardieu as Mr Deveraux, who, according to the synopsis, is  “a man who handles billions of dollars a day, who controls the economic fate of nations, a man who dreamed of saving the world and cannot save himself.” Bisset plays his wife, Simone Deveraux.

“Depardieu is the best casting choice. He’s the real McCoy. When we shot with Depardieu, he just pulled a chair up before I got there. He has a passion for making movies like you’ve never seen in your life,” said Ferrara.