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London Boulevard and Melancholia Hit VOD Before Theaters

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by Anne Thompson
October 7, 2011 9:34 AM
8 Comments
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Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia" Magnolia

Two indie films with strong casts are available right now on VOD before they hit movie theaters on November 11. Magnolia is releasing controversy-magnet Lars von Trier's Melancholia, starring Cannes best actress winner Kirsten Dunst, on OnDemand, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Playstation and Zune.

One of Von Trier's most beautiful, haunting and accessible films, Melancholia might have won the Palme d'Or if the puckish filmmaker hadn't made the self-destructive, admittedly stupid press conference remarks that have overshadowed the film itself, which deserves to be considered seriously on its own merits. On the other hand, sometimes controversy sells: Melancholia, which went over well at the NYFF, is outperforming all previous Von Trier films in the UK. "I think the movie has a chance to be the cocktail party film of the fall," says Magnolia's Eamonn Bowles, who booked it for a qualifying run in the L.A. area last August. If the critical reaction in November warrants an Oscar campaign for Dunst, Magnolia will go for it, he says.

Thompson on Hollywood

Melancholia boasts a stunning, surreal, digitally-altered, slo-mo prologue set in an elaborate castle and gardens right out of Marienbad, referencing everything from the pre-Raphaelite Lady of Shalot to Wagner’s soaring Tristan and Isolde. It brooks comparison not only to the examination of nature and survival in The Tree of Life and Take Shelter, which also deals with mental illness and nature gone wrong (and dead falling birds), as well as Another Earth, which also puts in the sky a potentially dangerous alternate planet.

Remember that long-postponed Graham King movie London Boulevard, starring Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley? Well, the R-rated romantic gangster flick is being released not by King's distribution outfit FilmDistrict, but by IFC Films, and is already available on VOD. Produced by Redmond Morris and Colin Vaines, the romantic thriller is adapted from the novel by Ken Bruen by The Departed Oscar-winner William Monahan, who makes his directorial debut with a strong UK cast that also includes Ben Chaplin and Ray Winstone. This movie did NOT go over well in the UK (Tomatometer ranking, 32%).

Here's the synopsis:

After three years behind bars, Mitchel (Farrell) emerges from Pentonville Prison with good intentions. But when his old friend Billy (Ben Chaplin), a low-level gangster who’s looking for backup on a job, meets him upon release, Mitchel joins him in exchange for a place to live. While entangled in the past, Mitchel becomes involved with Charlotte (Knightley), a movie star holed up in a Holland Park mansion against the paparazzi. Touched by her beauty and vulnerability, he quickly falls into the role of protector, fending off aggressive reporters and stalkers, as well as Billy’s ploy to rob the house of its expensive art and vintage cars.
 

As the attraction between them grows and their relationship deepens, Mitchel and Charlotte make plans to start anew in Los Angeles. But Mitchel has already caught the eye of powerful and ruthless mob boss Gant (Ray Winstone), who sees him as a potentially valuable asset to his business. When Mitchel rebuffs a lucrative job offer, Gant sets out to ensnare him in a violent web of extortion and murder. As Gant’s tactics become increasingly vicious and deadly, it becomes clear he would rather see the younger man dead than free. Knowing no one close to him is safe from Gant’s wrath, including Charlotte and his troubled sister Briony (Anna Friel), Mitchel decides to take a drastic move to settle things between them once and for all.

8 Comments

  • Anne Thompson | October 8, 2011 7:03 AMReply

    As the story states, Magnolia booked a week-long Oscar-qualifying run in the LA area in August.

  • jingmei | October 8, 2011 5:51 AMReply

    have watched both, these are cool European films

  • seanflynn | October 8, 2011 3:30 AMReply

    Phoebe
    The harsh reality is that there are going to be fewer and fewer films for indie specialized theatres as foreign and independent films more and more go to VOD and other platforms. The theatrical distribution model is dying. Within a couple years, 35mm will be gone and replaced by 100% digital presentation. And in the meantime, what is being made for cable TV drama series is taking much of the best talent and frankly satisfying much of the specialized audience more than what is in theatres.

  • Phoebe | October 8, 2011 2:00 AMReply

    Arg, as the owner of a small indie movie theater, I can't say how irritated I am by the decision to release Melancholia VOD before "theatrical". It weakens its marketability & discourages people from coming out to it. Usually a big, beautiful film like that thrives on the beauty of a big-screen viewing, but if people are on the fence about it why go out & risk it? Just sit at home & watch it on your couch where you can turn it off if you don't like it.

    VOD may be good for the distributor & for some larger theaters (maybe?) but for little indie theaters it removes a noticeable percentage of the audience.

  • seanflynn | October 8, 2011 1:12 AMReply

    Indeed that is what happened - it played at the out of the way Laemmle Fallbrook 7 last July, unannounced, unadvertised except for the Laemmle bloc ad, and unreviewed.

  • seanflynn | October 7, 2011 11:27 AMReply

    There is one (obscure) way Melancholia might still be eligible - if it has already unpublicized played somewhere in LA County - say in Azusa or Long Beach, advertised only in a local paper - for one week already. One show a day would have been enough.

    This sort of thing goes on with documentaries on a regular basis, then they later "officially" open up.

  • seanflynn | October 7, 2011 11:03 AMReply

    If Melancholia is available now on VOD before its theatrical release, my understanding is that this makes it Oscar ineligible.
    The rules these days last I look allow VOD right after (days) its initial US release (as long as LA is part of that), but not when it is after.
    Did the rules change once again, or is Magnolia just pretending they aren't aware of this?

  • AS | October 7, 2011 10:01 AMReply

    Does anyone know if Melancholia is available in HD on any of these VOD distributors cause the only way I'd consider watching any film is either in the theater or in HD.

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