German Comedy to Split VOD Revenue With Closed Cinemas

'The Kangaroo Chronicles'

Local comedy 'The Kangaroo Chronicles' was the number one film in Germany just before COVID-19 lockdown.

A total of 15 percent of all VOD revenues for X Verleih's 'The Kangaroo Chronicles' will go into a fund to help cinemas forced to shut down during the coronavirus crisis.

Germany's cinema associations have set up an emergency fund to help theaters hit by the coronavirus shutdown, and the film that was number one in the German charts when the epidemic hit will be the first to fill the coffers.

The Kangaroo Chronicles, Dani Levy's adaptation of Marc-Uwe Kling's hit German book series, grossed more than $5 million in its initial release in Germany and had topped the box office charts two weeks running when Germany went into near-lockdown and theaters across the country were shuttered in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Distributor X Verleih will release the film April 2 on VOD and will split the revenue with theaters. The Kangaroo Chronicles will be available to stream for $18.50 (16.99 euros), with 15 percent of the VOD revenue going directly to the new emergency fund. AG Kino and HDF Kino, two national associations representing German cinema owners, will handle the fund, using the money to help the country's hardest-hit theaters.

"We're the first to contribute to this project, but hopefully others will join us," X Verleih boss Leila Hamid told The Hollywood Reporter.

The Kangaroo Chronicles is the first German film to break the theatrical window by going to VOD so soon after its cinema bow. Films that receive state production subsidies — which is true for The Kangaroo Chronicles — are usually required to hold to a strict windowing system, which requires a gap of at least three months between a film's theatrical and VOD releases. X Verleih got a special dispensation to release the film earlier online.

But the company said this was a one-off exception. "Our motto is still 'Cinema First,'" X Verleih said.

The distributor has promised to do a theatrical rerelease of The Kangaroo Chronicles, with added bonus material, as soon as cinemas reopen.