Coordinated international releases for indie films

Is it just me, or is it becoming an increasing trend for indie films to be released simultaneously in the US and it at least some overseas territories such as the UK? I posted a while back on this in relation to Moonrise Kingdom, which might be expected to be an exception in some ways, particularly as it used the platform of so big a festival as Cannes to gain international coverage that supported a more or less simultaneous release. But the same strategy is being used for some smaller-scale films and examples that represent other parts of the indie spectrum, which seems more striking. One other example is Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister, the recent opening of which in art houses on both sides of the Atlantic followed appearances at the Tribeca and Seattle festivals. Todd Solondz’s Dark Horse is another, although in this case with a couple of weeks or so between release in the US and UK.

There are various reasons why this makes sense as an industry strategy, particularly for films that appear at the bigger festivals, but it does also seem to involve the loss of some traditional marketing features. If a film opens so close to its festival appearances, it gains when those appearances bring with them plenty of media attention. But it also makes it harder to include the roll-call of festival selections or particularly prizes in key marketing arenas such as posters and trailers, which has been a standard strategy in the art and indie film sectors of for many years. Not sure what the trade-off here might be. 

It’s tempting to suggest attribute this strategy also to the nature of the world of social media surrounding such films. Being a new recruit to Twitter, it’s struck me of late how frustrating it can be if you follow indie-film related sources (as I do) but can’t see the films they tweet about because you’re in the UK – but actually more so how far this hasn’t been the case in recent weeks, because most of the traffic has been in relation to films that are being released here either simultaneously or very soon after the US opening. It’s certainly the case that social media tend not to respect international boundaries in these kinds of areas and are likely to be at least one of the forces pushing towards this kind of approach.  A space worth watching, I think. Will post something on the Shelton and Solondz films themselves separately.


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