Kiran Rao & UTV's distribution model for Anand Gandhi's SHIP OF THESEUS revealed
This is a brave attempt to develop an alternative route for the theatrical distribution of non-mainstream specialty films in India that has been a major hurdle in the way of independent filmmakers. If this works, it will prove to be a big boon to a large number of films that find it tough to have a respectable theatrical release in a scenario completely dominated by heavily promoted and marketed star-driven mainstream event films. Anand Gandhi's SHIP OF THESIUS will be the first film to be distributed using a unique low cost Internet based promotion and distribution strategy.
Its details were unveiled by UTV's Siddharth Roy Kapoor in the presence of the film's presenter Kiran Rao, and its writer director Anand Gandhi in a press conference. While talking about it he referred to how specialty films have 'Platform' releases in the US and Europe in specified cinema halls. As the good word of mouth about them spreads, their distribution is expanded. It is not feasible to do it in India because of rampant piracy that forces distributors to go for as wide as possible theatrical release of a film. This pushes up the marketing and distribution budget beyond the capacity of independent filmmakers.
This may change now if UTV's game plan for SHIP OF THESIUS works. It is a two-pronged strategy. While UTV will have a 'limited' release of the film in five major cities, it will also find out through a social-media platform if there is an audience for the film at other locations. If its statistical model, based on a complex algorithm, throws up the desired numbers, UTV will expand the distribution of the film at those locations. This will save on the wasteful nation-wide marketing and distribution cost while ensuring at the same time that the film reaches its intended audience.
So, if you want to watch SHIP OF THESEUS in your town, simply visit a well-known social networking site, look for the SHIP OF THESEUS page and express the desire to have the film's screening near you. If the numbers for a particular location are sufficient enough, UTV will ensure that the film is released in that location. However, there is a niggling issue here. How will people know about the film to desire and demand its screening in their town? It was given to understand that there would be a campaign through social-media networks and other communication platforms to spread such awareness.
The most critical and positive fall out of this strategy can bring in long-term benefits for independent filmmakers and UTV. This initiative is designed to generate a valuable database to identify cities where audience for art house cinema exists in sufficient numbers. Based on that, UTV and other distributors may promote key cinema halls in such locations as 'art house theaters' and develop a commercially viable theatrical distribution platform for their 'art house' and 'world cinema' slate and film library.
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