AFM: Wild Bunch Looking to Acquire Titles for New Digital Distribution Arm

Courtesy Fantasia International Film Festival
'Welcome to New York'

The Paris-based company also will seek financing and co-production partnerships for digital distribution

Heading into AFM, France's Wild Bunch is looking to acquire four to five titles for its newly launched pan-European digital distribution arm, which it will use to release the films on an accelerated schedule via VOD, it announced Friday.

Following any AFM acquistions, it will seek quick distribution of the films on a monthly basis on VOD platforms through its partnerships with Altitude in the U.K., Bim in Italy, Vertigo in Spain and through its recently inked merger with Senator in Germany.

The company said it was establishing its digital distribution arm with the intent of becoming the first European e-distribution company.

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The move follows the success of its risky direct-to-VOD release of Abel Ferrara's Welcome to New York in May. Launched with a splashy party at Cannes, it was a risk that paid off — the controversial Gerard Depardieu starrer reached more than 120,000 sales in the months after its online release in May. 

Wild Bunch will provide digital distribution of films with "the goal of expanding the audience and to ensure economic viability," it said. "Conscious of the growth of VOD throughout the world and of the lack of screen availability in theaters, Wild Bunch will offer these movies, either directly to the different VOD services, or, when allowed by the law, simultaneously in VOD and on a small number of screens."

The new arm also will seek to develop financing and co-production partnerships with U.S. companies, specifically for digital distribution.

Following the models of Radius, A24 and IFC in the U.S., Wild Bunch will offer the films directly to VOD and in a mixed-distribuition model of simultaneous limited screen and VOD release where permitted. Its home country of France however is not one of them — regulations require a waiting period of four months after theatrical release for VOD and three years for subscription VOD.

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"Willing to contribute as much as possible to the development of e-distribution and thanks to its know-how acquired during the release of Welcome to New York, Wild Bunch wants to offer its e-distribution services to other European distributors who may want to benefit from this market," it said.

Wild Bunch recently landed a merger deal with indie production giant Senator Entertainment in Germany in an effort to create a pan-European company set to grow into a global digital distribution powerhouse. Wild Bunch also owns Netflix competitor and VOD/SVOD platform FilmoTV in France.