Writer-director Sarah Spillane’s debut film Around the Block will test the viability of a short window between theatrical and home entertainment release.

The drama starring Christina Ricci, Hunter Page-Lochard and Jack Thompson will begin a limited cinema roll-out at the Cremorne Orpheum on June 16 – one month before it’s released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms.

Producers Brian Rosen and Su Armstrong are hoping the accelerated release, with Screen Australia contributing to the $200,000 P&A spend, will provide a bigger upside than a conventional cinema season and then waiting 120 days for ancillary revenues.

The film is booked at the Randwick Ritz on June 23 and dates in Melbourne and Canberra are to be confirmed. There will be Q&A screenings with the director and key cast, excluding Ricci.

Pinnacle Films will release the title on DVD, Blu-ray and all major digital platforms including iTunes, Big Pond Movies, Foxtel, Google Play, X-Box, PlayStation 3 and 4.

Among other Aussie films that have had a short theatrical-to-home-entertainment window are teen drama Circle of Lies and supernatural thriller Foreshadow. By 4-walling the cinemas, the producer is free to reap DVD and VoD revenues much earlier than the long-standing 120-day window.

Movierockets Entertainment’s Kris Lippert, who produced Foreshadow, told IF, “It’s hard to say if there was any measurable benefit from the early release but we feel that at the very least it didn’t do us any harm.

“We would probably do the same thing for a similarly small film in the future as it is a good way to make the most of the advertising campaign around the theatrical release. It also allows us to concentrate all our marketing spending into a short period of time.”

In Around the Block, Page-Lochard, who appeared in The Sapphires and Bran Nue Dae, plays a troubled high school student who is torn between his love of theatre and the disintegration of his family.

Ricci plays an unconventional American drama teacher who encourages him to confront his past and take control of his future. Thompson plays the headmaster. The supporting cast includes Damien Walshe-Howling (Underbelly, Mystery Road), Daniel Henshall (Not Suitable for Children, Snowtown), Matt Nable (Underbelly, Bikie Wars) and Ruby Rose.

Arclight Films sold North American rights to Random Media, which will give the film a limited theatrical release day-and-date with VoD and DVD in August.

Around the Block premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. It’s screening at the Beijing International Film Festival and Newport Beach Film Festival this month and at the San Francisco Frameline Film Festival in June.

“An attention-grabbing, potentially profile-elevating performance by up-and-comer Hunter Page-Lochard is the major selling point of Around the Block, an Aussie variation of the oft-spun scenario about an at-risk high-schooler who gets a shot at redemption through a transformative extracurricular activity,” opined Variety’s Joe Leydon.

Spillane won an Australian Directors Guild Award for her screenplay of Around The Block and has received festival awards for her short films The Manual, Australian Tails and This Life.

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