November 27, 2014
he Mule is an Australian film about a man who comes back from Thailand with a stomach full of drugs. The police who arrest him lock him in a hotel room and wait for him to either own up or go to the toilet. The film stars two well-known Australian actors, Angus Sampson and Hugo Weaving, but it’s the film’s distribution method that is the most interesting.
The Mule has bypassed cinemas and gone straight to the iTunes store, where it has been available for paid download since November 21. With relatively small budgets for marketing campaigns, the threat of piracy and the four-month waiting period for films to go onto DVD after small cinema release, this could be the way forward for small budget Australian films.
In a report from Screen Australia, ‘Online and On Demand’, released last week it was found that “50% of internet-connected Australians from all walks of life are watching professionally produced film and television video content via the internet”. Ease of access, affordability and quality of content all affect online viewing.
The Screen Australia report also found that while we are more accepting of online platforms for film viewing, it still makes up only a small portion of our screen diet. The larger portion is still devoted to traditional platforms. The Mule will also be released on DVD on December 3 to appease this traditional demand.
Graeme Mason, Screen Australia CEO, said: “We can only expect the number of online viewers to grow, with greater awareness, new services and better access developing in response to market demand. The challenge is to find ways to monetise content through these new platforms as they increasingly disrupt traditional business models and teach us to expect to have it all, easily and cheaply, at our fingertips and on any device.”
The Mule was the most viewed indie film on the iTunes store over the weekend in the US and Australia, giving its unconventional release some merit.