“Guilt by Design,” a Hong Kong film produced by Perfect Village Pictures and starring Nick Cheung, has received a North America release on former Wanda executive Jack Gao’s new digital distribution platform Smart Cinema USA. Subsequently, Well Go USA will be releasing the film on all of its digital and TV platforms and channels.
Together, the moves represent of a kind of “larger, pioneering deal for the release of a Chinese film in North America,” “Guilt by Design” producer Ellen Eliasoph, Perfect Village CEO, told Variety.
The U.S. Well Go release after its digital stateside debut will give the “film wide sequential distribution following its initial run on the Smart Cinema platform,” and “ensure that fans of Hong Kong police thrillers, fans of Nick Cheung and fans of Chinese films in general will be able to enjoy this exciting new film simultaneously with its China release, and continually on the platforms of their choosing for months to come,” she said.
The film hit theaters in China on Oct. 25, where it’s earned $12 million (RMB85 million). Co-directed and written by a trio of new directors — Lai Siu Kwan, Sze Pak Lam and Liu Yongtai — it is now the lead film for Smart Cinema’s push into the U.S. market.
The start-up officially opened its U.S. operations on Nov. 3 at the Chinese American Film Festival (CAFF) after a 100-day pilot period. So far, Smart Cinema USA has released 17 day-and-date or recent Chinese theatrical films, as well as 15 selected from CAFF’s online panorama. During the pilot period, audience numbers approached 10,000.
Smart Cinema hopes to turn mobile phones into box office-collecting theatrical release devices through technology that allows films to be streamed a single time without rewinding per digital “ticket” purchased. It seeks to address the problem in China that despite the growing number of screens, 80% of people do not go to cinemas and 70% of films approved for distribution by the government never get a theatrical release.
Endeavor Content negotiated the Well Go deal on behalf of Perfect Village.