So who do we see topping up Hollywood Reporter today but the ol’ parent company, Rainbow Media, LLC? As Anne Thompson recounts, Rainbow is working towards being the first to acquire and release indie films simultaneously in theaters (mainly the IFC Center) and on video-on-demand. Hopes are to release 18-24 films per year through the new strategy â€” the VOD package will be called "IFC Center Presents" and will offer a subscription model as well as a per-title one (the first release will probably be Jeff Stanzler‘s "Sorry, Haters"). And that’s all we got on that at the moment, because sometimes we get our company announcements the same way you do â€” via a regurgitated press release read on an internet news source.
Of course, the whole collapsing windows issue is a hot one, particularly since Rainbow’s not the only one with this idea. Slate‘s Edward Jay Epstein looks at what Mark Cuban is trying to do with HDNet Films (its kick-off film, Steven Soderbergh’s "Bubble," which we reviewed at the NYFF here, will get a simultaneous theatrical/DVD/TV release January 27th), detailing the sticky situation that is the studio-enforced 45-day to four-month window between when a title is made available on DVD and when it can go to VOD or a premium movie channel.
What has prevented the studios from closing the video window is simple: Wal-Mart. The company, which is the single biggest seller of DVDs, has made it clear that it does not want to compete with home delivery. Wal-Mart executives told Viacom’s home entertainment division in no uncertain terms that if any studio does away with the 45-day video window for a single title, they would risk losing access to Wal-Mart’s shelf space for all of its titles. Wal-Mart provided studios with more than one-third of their U.S. DVD revenue in 2004. In the face of Wal-Mart’s retail power, the studios have not dared (yet) to do away with the protective video window.
Meanwhile, indieWIRE announces that The Weinstein Company (we got a press release from them with a W logo â€” TWC looks to be settling in as the permanent name, despite what they’re said) has cemented its funding. And Empire‘s got some of the brothers W’s plans for TV, now that they’re flush with cash and ready to start media empire-building:
After its 2006 cinematic sequel, "Sin City" will become a TV series and, cashing in on the current US TV craze for poker-based programming, the Matt Damon–Ed Norton grifters flick "Rounders" will also hit the small screen.
Using their cinematic connections, the Weinsteinâ€™s have also pulled together an impressive array of talent to adapt Alexander McCallâ€™s nit novel "The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency." Anthony Minghella will direct the pilot â€” which centres on a female private eye solving mysteries in Botswana â€” with Richard Curtis on board to script the story. Minghella and Curtis in turn have approached TV guru David E. Kelly ("Ally McBeal") to produce.
They do not dream small, those two. We’ve always had a soft spot for "Rounders," to tell the truth, what with John Malkovich hamming it up in that Eurotrash tracksuit.
John Anderson at the New York Times covers another alternative to the traditional distribution route: IndieFlix.com offers a catalogue of super-indies that they’ll burn onto DVD for you for &9.95.