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665 Broadway, Suite 609
New York, NY

The NYU Cinema Research Institute brings together innovators in film and media finance, production, marketing, and distribution to imagine and realize a new future for artist-entrepreneurs. 


The changing tide of digital distribution (June 2012)


A glance at the trades tells us everything we need to know about the current state of independent film distribution... it's changing. Cases and points:


  • What: A music documentary that follows a ten-day road trip (via train) with Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show
  • Release: "Run in reverse" method by which the film debuts on iTunes today as an exclusive.  Press and attention is white hot and iTunes is cross promoting the title alongside music by the artists, all of whom seem natural fits for the iTunes audience.  DVD/BluRay is to follow next month, followed by digital/VOD at a later date.
  • The Takeaway: One great partner can be the difference-maker in terms of a successful launch.

Title: 1,2,3... FRANKIE GO BOOM!

  • What: A comedy starring Charlie Hunnam, Lizzy Kaplan, Chris O'Dowd, Chris Noth and Whitney Cummings that premiered at SXSW.
  • Release: Through a new joint venture between  Variance Films (a theatrical distributor) and Gravitas (a digital one), the film will premiere on VOD in September, followed by a theatrical release in October.
  • The Takeaway: The Magnolia premiere on VOD model is spreading downstream.


  • What: Lee Daniels' controversial follow up to the critically and financially successful Precious, the movie is an erotic thriller starring Zach Efron, Nicole Kidman, Macy Gray and John Cusack.
  • Release: After failing to receive an acceptable post-Cannes offer, Millenium Entertainment will be self-distributing the title in the fall.
  • The Takeaway: Even specialty distributors are exercising extreme caution in picking up risky titles.  For such movies, the distribution may have to get as creative as the material itself.