Oscilloscope starting DVD club

Indie label was founded by Adam Yauch, David Fenkel

Oscilloscope is pulling a Columbia House.

The quirky indie film label founded by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch and ThinkFilm veteran David Fenkel is starting a direct-mail DVD club.

Under terms of the club, the company will ship its next 10 DVD releases, at a rate of about one per month, to paying subscribers, with each pic going out one week before the DVD is released to the general public. The subscription fee of $150 will also entitle subscribers to buy DVDs from the Oscilloscope catalog at half price.

Several of Oscilloscope's upcoming DVD releases are known -- the slate will likely include, for example, the gonzo environmental doc "No Impact Man" -- but some are not, and the company is hoping that customers simply know and like the Oscilloscope brand enough to take a chance on a subscription without knowing what exactly they're buying.

"It's kind of like when you're a kid and get a magazine and you don't know exactly what you're going to get, but that's what makes you so excited about it," Yauch said in an interview, acknowleding that the program shares some similarities with Columbia House and other direct-mail record clubs of the 1980s.

"Hopefully we can reach that level of harassment," he quipped.

Other Oscilloscope DVDs that are likely though not guaranteed to be a part of the inaugural slate of the club -- which will be dubbed "The Circle of Trust" -- include the political doc "Burma VJ," Zoey Kazan starrer "The Exploding Girl" and Oren Moverman's military drama "The Messenger," to which Oscilloscope holds theatrical and DVD rights.

The decision to start "Trust" reflects distributors' growing need to find creative ways to sell DVDs as that market continues to flatline. It's a need that's particularly crucial to. indie banners, which find themselves increasingly squeezed on the theatrical front.

The program also further cements Oscilloscope as a company willing to mix guerilla marketing with a heavy dose of whimsy. In announcing the program, a statement from Oscilloscope eschewed traditional descriptions in favor of a more playful, Dungeons & Dragons-style approach.

"It is with pride and honor that we (those who forged the circle) have devised a way that you (the Chosen One) can enter the sacred realm and fulfill your true destiny," the press release began. "Until now, Mars was in the house of Neptune's second moon, and as such, you were prevented from journeying into this sacred cipher. Now, as worlds align, the chalice is within your grasp."
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