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'Bachelorette' and the video-on-demand revolution: How digital distribution is changing indie cinema

When Bachelorette arrived at the Sundance Film Festival last January, the film’s producers were quite clear-eyed about its prospects. The dark comedy — about three hard-partying high school friends (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, and Lizzy Caplan) and their evening of escalating debauchery before the wedding of another friend (Rebel Wilson) — was based on a years-old play by writer-director Leslye Headland. But just as the feature film adaptation was set to go before cameras last summer, Bridesmaids, which shares some pointed similarities, became a massive, zeitgeist-seizing sensation.

“When Bridesmaids hit, I knew, ‘Oh, now [Bachelorette] is going to look like a knock off,'” says producer Adam McKay, who with fellow producers Will Ferrell and Jessica Elbaum helped champion the film through their production company, Gary Sanchez Productions. So McKay turned his sights beyond U.S. theaters, to the European release (“I thought they’d enjoy the darkness of the movie”), home video, and cable. One thought that did not cross his mind? Video on demand. “No, no,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking VOD at all.”

Even after Bachelorette was snapped up by RADiUS, The Weinstein Company’s brand new label focused on alternative distribution, McKay remained skeptical at the plan to release the film on VOD a full month before its theatrical debut Sept. 7. “It just didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me,” he says with a chuckle. So you can imagine McKay’s surprise when, within 48 hours of its digital premiere, Bachelorette hit number one on the iTunes video-on-demand chart — the first time, it seems, that a film has hit that milestone before hitting movie theaters.

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Trippy motion poster for 'Marley' documentary: See it here! -- EXCLUSIVE

Step one: know your audience. Step two: entice said audience with appropriately-crafted promotional materials.

It’s an easy two-step process, and it’s one that’s perfectly executed by the folks behind the new film Marley, the documentary about reggae legend Bob Marley, which opens in theaters today and is available on demand. EW got an exclusive look at one of film’s video posters, which features various shots of Marley beneath some smooth, soothing reggae jams from the famous friend of Mary Jane.

Enjoy the hypnotic poster below: READ FULL STORY

'Marley' documentary will premiere in theaters -- and on Facebook -- on 4/20

On April 20 —that release date must be a coincidence, right? — Marley, a long-in-the-works documentary about reggae legend Bob Marley, will hit theaters. But that’s not all: The doc will also simultaneously stream on Facebook.

As the Associated Press initially reported, the social network will allow users to rent the film for $6.99 starting the same day it opens in theaters. This is unprecedented territory; though Facebook has been offering movie rentals since March 2011, it has never hosted a film that’s also appearing on movie screens.

“It’s a unique opportunity for a film that’s not a blockbuster,” says Sandi Hemmerlein, General Manager of Tuff Gong Worldwide — Marley executive producer Ziggy Marley’s record label. “One of our goals is to give as many people as we can access to it.” The streaming will be available in Caribbean territories including Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas as well as the U.S.  READ FULL STORY

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