Foxtel and Dendy create new release window

‘Australia Day’ will be the first film to be released via Dendy and Foxtel’s new model. 

Some distributors, exhibitors and producers have welcomed a new distribution model which will see local and international films available to rent online immediately following a one-week theatrical release.

They see the initiative from Foxtel and Dendy as a long overdue alternative to the rigid theatrical-home entertainment window of about 90 days.

Foxtel and Dendy plan to release at least one title each fortnight, providing theatrical exposure for some films which would not otherwise play in cinemas.

These films will also benefit from being marketed to more than 1 million subscribers to Foxtel’s film channels and via Dendy’s VOD arm Dendy Direct.

The first title to take that innovative route will be director Kriv Stenders’ drama Australia Day, produced by Hoodlum Entertainment for Foxtel.

Dendy’s sister company Icon Film Distribution will launch the film starring Bryan Brown, Matthew Le Nevez, Shari Sebbens and Sean Keenan on the Dendy circuit and other cinemas on September 21.

It will be available on both Foxtel Store and Dendy Direct, the latter branded as Dendy Marquee, on September 27.

The holdbacks for electronic sell through, DVD and broadcast on Foxtel are yet to be determined.

As Foxtel reaches only one third of Australian homes, conceivably some films could run in cinemas for longer than one week.

Transmission Films co-founder Andrew Mackie told IF he likes the concept and is in discussions to release one film via that pipeline.

Wallis Cinemas’ consultant Bob Parr observed: “It is an interesting model which could encourage more Australian movies. My view is that it could be a good idea for titles that could struggle at the box office if screening with a normal [holdback] policy.”

Producer Janice Eymann said: “I totally support this initiative and I think it’s about time we had someone thinking outside the bogged-down system we have currently. I honestly appreciate the people at Dendy and Hoodlum who have made this possible. I would like to think it has an international aspect as well.”

Eddie Tamir, who owns the Classic, Lido and Cameo Cinemas, said: “We are always looking to make our cinema program compelling and eclectic. The Marquee initiative allows us to screen films for our patrons that would otherwise not be available.”

Screen industry consultant Tony Forrest, a former CEO of Movie Networks Channels, said: “Any solution developed to create a longer tail of commercial value in theatrical content is a big plus.”

Actress Kaarin Fairfax enthused: “This is such good news.”

Foxtel’s director of content Ross Crowley expects the co-venture to gain momentum as producers and distributors are able to evaluate the revenue data and he thinks the volume of releases potentially could be greater than one per fortnight.

Dendy/Icon CEO Greg Hughes said: “Dendy is the only vertically integrated business in Australia offering both exhibition and on demand. It is therefore uniquely positioned to entertain a wider audience by combining the big screen experience of Dendy Cinemas and the national reach of our online movie platform Dendy Direct.

“This business model, which we are branding Dendy Marquee, will offer consumers more choice, accessibility and immediacy in the consumption of quality specialty content.”