The theatrical release of docs in Europe will take a huge step forward later this year through an innovative distribution and marketing system spearheaded by the Netherlands Film Fund (NFF) in Amsterdam and Berlin-based film distributor Salzgeber & Co. Medien.
European DocuZone sees 175 art house theaters in eight countries banding together to simultaneously premiere the same documentary titles. The launch, set for September, is supported by the European Union’s Media Plus program.
Theaters in Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Scotland and Slovakia will exhibit at least one title each month. Panels in each state will vote on which title (produced in the member countries) the entire network will screen.
DocuZone organizers NFF and Salzgeber will ready each film’s tech requirements, such as digitizing and subtitling, and prepare marketing campaigns. The goal is to have the delivery process digitized and executed via satellite, but only theaters in the Netherlands and Germany will be ready at kick off, says NFF head of docs Kees Ryninks. Ticket sale
revenues will be passed back up the distribution chain, and ultimately to film producers and distrib-rights holders.
The premieres will be backed by a multinational marketing campaign that will promote the docs as ‘event’ engagements, Ryninks says. ‘Having a premiere simultaneously in eight countries is a good publicity mechanism,’ he says. The shows will be backed by interest-building events such as live satellite transmissions of director intros and post-screening Q&As. European DocuZone is an outgrowth of an identical system launched in the Netherlands in 2002 – Dutch DocuZone.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic… The Durham, U.S.-based Full Frame Documentary Festival will simultaneously exhibit festival screenings in theaters in up to 20 cities in a deal with Emerging Pictures, a New York-based production and technology company. The festival will be executed using EP’s digital cinema network. The eighth Full Frame fest will be held April 1 to 4, and feature more than 100 screenings. MS