September 23, 2014
Tony Mahony and Angus Sampson’s dark comedy The Mule will test a new model for releasing films when it’s launched simultaneously on digital platforms in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada on November 21.
Consumers in those markets will be able to buy the title online; it will be avaiIable to rent from December 3.
In the week before the digital launch Sampson, Hugo Weaving and executive producer and co-writer/co-star Leigh Whannell will attend event screenings and Q&A sessions in Sydney and Melbourne.
“This style of release is testament to the vision of the filmmakers to present their film to the widest possible audience across the country and for eOne’s desire to drive new and unique ways to connect films with audiences in an ever changing landscape,” said Entertainment One MD Troy Lum.
The Reckoning writer-director John V Soto is convinced of the value of a limited theatrical release for his thriller. “I had been a skeptic of the Screen Australia policy of requiring a theatrical release in three states but recently my position changed, ” says Soto, whose film went out on VOD and DVD 13 days after opening in five cinemas.
“I think a limited release in multiple states really does help create awareness. While the public may not go see the film they might read the reviews or articles and therefore when they see the film on a VOD site or at a DVD store, they are more likely to recognize it and thus buy/hire it.
“Our limited four state, five screen release did generate a huge amount of press and publicity for The Reckoning and this momentum seems to have flowed through to our VOD and DVD release. It’s performing well on all platforms. It’s early days but I think our release model works, particularly if you can generate lots of international sales too, which we have.
“One thing is certain: we’re not carrying huge P&A losses from a failed 50+ screen theatrical release.”
Scripted by Sampson, Whannell and Jaime Brown, The Mule premiered at the SXSW festival and will have its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October.
It stars Sampson, Weaving, Whannell, Ewen Leslie, Geoff Morrell, Georgina Haig, Noni Hazlehurst and John Noble. Inspired by true events, the plot follows a naive man who is detained by federal police with lethal narcotics hidden in his stomach. Alone and afraid, Sampson’s mule makes a desperate choice: to defy his bodily functions and withhold the evidence, literally.
In so doing he becomes a human time bomb, dragging cops, criminals and concerned family into his impossible escapade. Shot in Melbourne and Bangkok, it received funding from Screen Australia and Film Victoria.
EOne originally intended to give the film a conventional cinema release in October before deciding on this new approach. XLrator Media bought North American rights.
The Mule will be available for customers to pre-order on iTunes from September 29. It will go out on Blu-ray, DVD and online rental on December 3.