Start-up micro-distributor to offer new theatrical distribution model to filmmakers, announces initial film slate
NEW YORK (RUSHPRNEWS)August 18, 2008 – In a world where studio specialty houses are shuttering left and right, indie distributors are facing financial problems across the board, and new options are materializing online, independent filmmakers still need a viable way to traditionally release their films in the US theatrical marketplace.
Today, Dylan Marchetti, former THINKFilm director of distribution and marketing, has announced the formation of a new company – VARIANCE FILMS – to establish a new theatrical distribution model for independent filmmakers that allows lesser-known films to bridge the gap between self-distribution and traditional theatrical distribution.
“Variance Films will represent the best of the old thinking and the best of the new, adapting both to the reality of today’s marketplace,” said Founder and President Dylan Marchetti. “While there is no shortage of independent films being made today, there are far too many noteworthy films that are struggling to find distribution and often winding up going straight-to-video.
Variance Films is designed to take these smaller films to theaters – tailoring each release to the specific film for the specific US markets, even when it doesn’t fit the standard theatrical NY/LA expansion model. And we will have a strong acquisitions component, so we’ll soon be a staple at festivals and markets, chasing after films we believe in.”
Marchetti, who recently left THINKFilm after a successful stint working on films such as the acclaimed documentary “Nanking” and the drama “The Air I Breathe” with Brendan Fraser and Sarah Michelle Gellar, has been distributing films for several years and developed a reputation for finding smaller films with breakout potential.
Previous stops working for ImaginAsian Pictures, a division of ImaginAsian Entertainment he also helped found, and for AMC Theaters, enabled Marchetti to realize that there always has been a void that must be filled within the ever-developing indie marketplace for smaller films that might not appeal to the bigger indie studios but are still good enough to justify theatrical distribution domestically.
A notable case study that this model has merit was demonstrated with Marchetti’s work on a Vietnamese film called “Journey from the Fall” while he was at ImaginAsian Pictures in 2006. The campaign called for a strong grassroots promotion with a focus on street teams, presence at local events and conferences, and filmmakers that remained involved and visible through the process in each market.
By employing a reasonable publicity and advertising budget that highlighted the historical importance of the film and the different approach it took compared to a standard Vietnam war film, the film opened to a $21,000 per screen average on four theaters and eventually went on to gross over $600,000 despite never playing Los Angeles proper. Marchetti believes that similar versions of this model will work for a wide variety of films, and will be no less profitable. Variance Films’ initial slate aims to reflect that philosophy.
WALKING ON DEAD FISH, a co-release with Dutchmen Films, opens in New Orleans on September 5, 2008 with a regional expansion on September 19, 2008. A documentary in the vein of “Hoop Dreams,” WALKING ON DEAD FISH, narrated and executive produced by Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, and directed by Franklin Martin, tells the story of the East St. John High School football team’s 2005 season.
The under-funded school 12 miles from New Orleans took in over 450 displaced students in the weeks after Katrina, and twenty of them joined the football team when the coach declared all positions were open (just one week before the season began). While tensions are initially high (particularly amongst the seniors, who are depending on playing time to get scholarship offers), nobody turns bitter and nobody quits – the team unites, and begins winning.
About the acquisition deal with Marchetti and his new company, director Franklin Martin said, “Variance Films and Dylan Marchetti’s passion and commitment to the powerful message sent by WALKING ON DEAD FISH and the people of New Orleans, made my decision to walk away from traditional distribution easy. Belief in making our country a better place through the medium of film; how rare.”
“WALKING ON DEAD FISH is a great example of the kind of movie that would slip through the cracks if released in a rote fashion,” Marchetti said. “It’s not a New York or Los Angeles kind of movie at first glance – it needs to get some momentum behind it, and we’re going to do that by opening it in â€˜football country’ and slowly expanding it. We want the buzz to drive us into the major markets, rather than the other way around.”
Variance’s next release, Vince Di Meglio’s SMOTHER, a dark comedy starring Diane Keaton, Dax Shepard, and Liv Tyler, will open in the top five markets on September 26, 2008, with a national expansion to follow. Academy-Award Winner Diane Keaton plays Marilyn Cooper, an overbearing mother whose son Noah (Shepard) keeps her at arm’s length. Already facing pressure from his wife Claire (Tyler) to have a baby, Noah loses his job and finds an unwelcome houseguest on his couch (Mike White, in a hilarious supporting role), and thinks things can’t get worse. When Marilyn shows up crying (dressed in a pumpkin suit with her six dogs in tow) after a fight with her husband, and Claire quickly offers her the guest room, he’s proven quite wrong. Slowly inching her way into every aspect of his life, the film follows the extended family as they tenuously find a middle ground.
Variance Films is a privately-held full-service theatrical distribution company. Founded by Dylan Marchetti, former THINKFilm director of distribution and marketing, Variance Films will distribute new features to theaters, focusing on collaborative grassroots marketing in conjunction with standard publicity and advertising avenues designed specially for each film. Upcoming releases include the Katrina/high school football documentary WALKING ON DEAD FISH on September 5th, and the comedy SMOTHER starring Diane Keaton, Dax Shepard, and Liv Tyler on September 26th. For more information, please visit www.variancefilms.com.