Imax Entertainment, Broad Green Pictures and Sophisticated Films and sales agent Wild Bunch have unveiled an unusual U.S. and global distribution plan for Terrence Malick’s documentary “Voyage of Time,” set to world premiere at Venice on Tuesday.
Malick began the film more than 40 years ago, pic examines the evolution of the universe and its future. The Venice competition entry will probably not be a conventional movie, and neither will its distribution plan. Sold internationally by Wild Bunch, “Voyage of Time” will unspool on the Lido in its 35mm, feature-length version, with narration from Cate Blanchett. A second, 40-minute Imax iteration casts Brad Pitt as the narrator.
After Venice, the two versions will prescribe very different distribution roll-outs, said Sophokles Tasioulis, at Berlin-based Sophisticated Films. The Imax version will be released in the U.S. on Oct. 7 by Imax.
The 35mm feature-length “Voyage of Time” will be released internationally, bowing in Australia (eOne) and France (Mars Distribution) in December, then Japan (Gaga) in January. It will then be released around the world over the next six months, Tasioulis said, adding that “a year or so, the distribution routes will flip, with the Imax version rolling out over international and the 35mm feature in the U.S.”
“Many of our international distributors are finalizing their release plans now as we speak,” he said.
If successful, the distribution strategy may set a precedent for other big-screen/conventional feature distribution plans.
The distribution plan reflects the state of the business, said Tasioulis, producer of BBC docu-events “Deep Blue” and “Earth.”
Imax documentaries historically have done about 80% of their business in the U.S.
Conversely, “most big theatrical documentaries have performed above average outside the U.S. and average in the U.S., with the exception of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ [$119.2 million] and ‘March of the Penguins’ [$77.4 million],” said Tasiouslis.
Given the versions’ audiences are different, so are the films, he added. “We hope that people who will go to the feature-length version because it’s Terrence Malick, because of its subject matter and also because of its cinematic and artistic creative vision, delivered by a very distinct filmmaker who has a lot to say about it.” Imax audiences traditionally want more fact-driven movies that are far more “on the nose,” he added. The feature, in contrast, is a “90-minute emotional journey.”