'Piranha 3DD' to Become First 3D Film to Get Day-and-Date Release

9:01 PM PST 05/30/2012 by Georg Szalai

The Dimension movie will also be the first-ever 3D Facebook release.

The Weinstein Co.'s Dimension Films label and Starz Digital Media, a unit of Liberty Media's premium TV arm Starz, will make Piranha 3DD available on-demand and online for VOD rentals day- and-date with its theatrical release Friday.

The movie will be available day-and-date in pay TV homes and via digital distributors.

The film marks the first day-and-date release for a 3D movie and the first Dimension release to venture into the distribution model, the companies said.

Starz Digital Media said it also has worked with tech firm Milyoni to bring the Piranha 3DD VOD release to Facebook, with the first-ever 3D Facebook VOD app for rental. Facebook viewers can comment and share clips, stills and quotes with their friends.

The movie is the sequel to campy 2010 release Piranha 3D. Much of the cast returns, including Christopher Lloyd and Ving Rhames, with David Hasselhoff starring as a celebrity lifeguard. The cast also includes Gary Busey and Katrina Bowden.

Piranha 3DD will be available for a 48-hour VOD rental period for a suggested retail price of $6.99 in standard and high definition and $7.99 in 3D. (Some distributors might choose not to offer the 3D version.) Consumers have 30 days from the time of the rental transaction to start viewing.

"With the worldwide box office and critical success of Piranha 3D, I am excited to explore and take advantage of a wider release strategy, which will give fans of the franchise an opportunity to see Piranha 3DD on multiple platforms,” said Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Co., which owns a 25 percent stake in Starz Media.

"Fans of the Piranha franchise are in for a 'feeding frenzy' of viewing options, with so many opportunities and ways to enjoy the campy and thrilling sequel,” said Mara Winokur, senior vp digital media distribution at Starz Media and lead executive at Starz Digital Media. "We have been looking at experimenting in the premium VOD space; Piranha 3DD provided the perfect title in terms of genre and installed fan base. Adding in the first-ever Facebook 3D option gives viewers even more control over how and when they watch the movie and is a logical extension of the premium VOD experience.”

Starz said that more than 95 percent of U.S. pay TV households are served by multichannel operators participating in the day-and-date VOD release. That excludes cable firm Cablevision Systems, which Winokur said is not set up to offer variable pricing on the same title.

Online distributors participating include Amazon Instant Video, Google Play/YouTube, Apple's iTunes, Sony Corp.'s PlayStation Network, Vudu and Microsoft's Xbox Live.

Winokur said Starz and Dimension believe that the genre and audience, along with a limited theatrical release, made the movie a perfect test case for a broader day-and-date launch across platforms. "We wanted to push the envelope in the digital space more and more, while not jeopardizing the traditional business," she said. "It was the right title, timing and pricing to not upset retailers. And theaters are also on board with this."

Last year, the Universal Pictures wide release Tower Heist drew opposition from exhibitors with plans for a day-and-date bow.

Horror and action films do particularly well in day-and-date releases, especially on gaming consoles, she said.

She wouldn't predict how many Facebook views the film would get. "The cost was low enough that if there are no views, but people saw the promotion and went to theaters or got it on DVD or elsewhere, it will be successful," she said. "It is a great marketing spend in itself. It is a holistic experiment."

Starz Media is distributing Weinstein Co. releases via its Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz Digital Media arms in the U.S. Anchor Bay will distribute Piranha 3DD on Blu-ray 3D combo pack and DVD later this year.

For those without 3D glasses who want to order the film online, Starz said it will mention that the film comes in the anaglyph 3D format, known as "red/blue 3D," and provide a description for how to make glasses at home with basic household items, such as permanent marker and CD cases.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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