Written by Films

Viewing Options

Here’s a curious thing.
The new Ben Wheatley film, A Field in England, is getting a truly multi-media launch on 5th July, by getting a simultaneous release in cinemas, on DVD, on video-on-demand and on the free-to-air Film4 channel!
Having enjoyed both Kill List and Sightseers immensely, I’m really looking forward to Wheatley’s paranoid fantasy set during the English Civil War.
And I’m also really interested and excited by new distribution mechanisms. I’ve written frequently on the pain of watching films in multiplexes where customer service can be poor, and nobody really cares if your enjoyment is spoilt by fellow patrons. So giving me a choice of viewing opportunities is an interesting idea.
We’ve seen similar releases to this before. Ken Loach’s Route Irish got a Sky Box Office release, and lower budget horror films often get a very short cinema release – sometimes just a weekend – to collect some publicity ahead of a Monday DVD release. Curzon has its On Demand service that lets those not lucky enough to live within easy travelling distance of an arthouse cinema, watch some films on demand at the time of their cinema release (more titles please!).
What’s different here is the free-to-air Film4 broadcast. While Film4 isn’t an HD channel anywhere aside from Virgin Media currently (coming soon to Sky though?), and it has advertising breaks, I’d have thought this singular route might severely impact on the others.
Yes, some will want to watch the film at the cinema with a live Q&A link-up – the Picturehouse chain is another great little chain (even though it’s now in bigger hands). Others might like to own the DVD for their collection. But I can’t for the life of me think of a reason why someone would pay for the video-on-demand transmission over the free-to-air broadcast. I suppose you might not be in on Friday night, or you may have neglected to schedule a recording on your PVR.
I’ll be really interested to see the results of this, although I can’t help thinking that they won’t make quite as much money as they might. That said, you have to experiment, and cinema is certainly going to have to adapt to survive into the future. Assuming that we want to see more than Iron Man XXIII etc.