Wild Bunch enters digital domain

Cutting edge, Paris-based production, sales and distribution group Wild Bunch, has announced it is planning to launch a pan-European digital distribution operation, organising cross-territory, day-and-date releases in the region.

The company said in a statement that their new digital strategy would focus initially on “event” films, the promotion of which could be bolstered via a festival release, controversial subject-matter or a genre fan-base.

Alongside Wild Bunch Distribution and Wild Side in France, Wild Bunch also owns or has shares in Wild Bunch Germany and Senator in Germany; Vertigo in Spain and Bim in Italy.

The new digital strategy will be rolled out in this network first as well as in the UK through a deal with Altitude. The company noted, however, that it was looking to work with other distributors and producers in the region who wanted to benefit from its digital expertise.

Eli Roth’s horror thriller The Green Inferno is the company’s first acquisition for the digital slate and Wild Side and WBD acquisition agents were on the hunt at the AFM for another four to five suitable titles.

The move makes the Paris-based producer and distributor one of the first European films companies to enter the multi-territory, digital distribution arena in Europe, which is currently dominated by US players such as Netflix and iTunes.

The company said the decision to move into pan-European digital distribution had been driven by the success of its French VOD-only release of Welcome to New York in May, which was accompanied by date-and-date releases in a number of other European territories, as well as its participation in a European Commission media windows experiment last year.

It added that it was taking inspiration from US distributors of indie fare which had successfully embraced digital releasing strategies, including RADiUS, A24 and the IFC.

It remains to be seen whether the company will ever be able to legally engineer a day-and-date release in its home territory of France. Under French law, there must be a four-month lag between a film’s theatrical release and its distribution via VOD, although there are growing calls in the industry for this to be softened.