Written by Elizabeth Eckhart
There’s a new type of movie in town, and no, it’s not another superhero film. Due to recent deals with DirecTV and Amazon, it appears indie films are becoming more available with increased distribution through the marketing power and genius of A24. The indie film distributor, which has wisely picked up commercial indie favorites such as Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring, is now planning on picking up two additional streaming channels to its roster. These new channels might just be enough for cinema fans to skip the theater and watch from home. Though this may be horrifying news for theater giants, it’s spectacular news for indie film lovers tired of struggling to find where new films are playing or else having to trek out to the same arthouse cinema. It is also great news for indie filmmakers who often don’t have the budget for marketing and distribution on a widespread scale.
Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, is the most recent indie film to get approved by A24. The film, which received a lot of attention at the Toronto Film Festival, was quickly snapped up by A24 and set to release in theatres on April 4, coincidentally the same day as the premiere of superhero moneymaker Captain America: The Winter Soldier which also stars Johansson. The two films, however, will be premiered in vastly different ways.
Since Under the Skin is an A24 film, before it ever reaches theaters it will be available for viewing a month prior through DirecTV’s on demand services (see http://www.direct-ticket.net for details). After the premiere, coinciding with DVD and Blu-Ray release, Amazon’s Prime Instant Video customers will have access to the films immediately at no additional cost. Already, Amazon Prime users can access Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring, Ginger & Rosa, and The Spectacular Now. Unsurprisingly, large theaters aren’t ecstatic about the arrangement, and most have refused to show Under the Skin, being fully aware that there wouldn’t be the same appeal to see the film in theatres. Taking this power away from major theaters and placing it in the hands of consumers, most of whom are willing to pay for instant, at-home access, is a shift many of us would love to see — especially if it brought theaters back to reality enough to drop prices and truly compete.
The on-demand premiere setup, as mentioned before, is also great for independent filmmakers and those intent on specific, long-term projects versus high-budgeted, obvious and quickly made audience pleasers. Between Amazon and DirecTV, the films will receive far more advertising than other any other indie film distribution could have accomplished alone. One example of a director who will benefit from this setup is Jonathan Glazer, who despite having received much praise for his film Sexy Beast in 2000, has only added two more projects to his resume: Under the Skin and Birth (2004). Under the Skin has been rumored to follow the trend of his first two films — dark, eerie, and most likely a little disturbing. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien seductress who does her part to feed her race by attracting, then drugging, capturing and delivering human victims to be fattened and devoured by aliens. Though the role of more-than-human may not be out of the ordinary for Johannson (who has successfully played Black Widow) the film’s documentary-esque style and quietly paced scenes is anything but the norm for her. Supposedly, Glazer even had the starlet attempt to convince real-life, unsuspecting passerby into her car in order to get the shots he needed. Only afterwards were the men informed of their participation in a movie.
Whether or not you view Under the Skin and subsequent A24 films at home or in theaters, you’ll be sure to enjoy Johansson’s performance. If previous A24 films are any indication, the distribution company has a knack for picking films that both appeal to indie followers and also bring in new audiences previously unaware of the films outside the major movie circuit.
Check out the latest trailer for Under the Skin:
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