Unusual marching orders for 'Squad'

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"Elite Squad," the first feature to be produced by the Weinstein Co. and Costantini Films' Latin Film Fund, won't be released theatrically in the U.S. by the Weinsteins.

Instead, Jose Padilha's Brazillian drug drama, which won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, will be released simultaneously in theaters and on VOD through IFC Films, one of several day-and-date releases IFC is planning from other indie distributors.

The move is quite unusual given that "Squad" is one of the most acclaimed films of the year, the Weinsteins have shepherded many successful foreign film releases since their Miramax days and "Squad" was promoted by the Weinstein Co. when it made its North American premiere two months ago at the Tribeca Film Festival. The company launched Third Rail Releasing in February to handle its lower-budget specialty films, through which it will distribute Julian Schnabel's docu "Lou Reed's Berlin" next month.

IFC didn't purchase rights to the film, and the Weinstein Co. is not paying a distribution fee. IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring would not disclose deal terms but said the Weinstein Co. will have some input in the marketing of the film and will handle all other distribution.

The companies quietly made a similar deal after the Weinstein Co.-Costantini Latin Film Fund acquired U.S. and Spanish rights to the Argentinean political thriller "Chronicle of an Escape." The Nov. 30 release grossed $2,370.

On Nov. 30, the IFC in Theaters program also distributed Emerging Pictures' "Tony n' Tina's Wedding."

Sehring said discussions are in the works with Emerging and other distributors for similar releases. "It's a model that works well for many specialty films," he said. (partialdiff)
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