David Bloom is a contributor to Deadline.
Cinedigm Chief Marketing Officer Jill Calcaterra said the company was delighted with the online uptake of their recent experiment with BitTorrent to promote Arthur Newman, the just-released film starring Colin Firth and Emily Blunt. Under the deal, the file-sharing site was used to distribute 10 minutes of the Cinedigm-distributed film to whomever wanted to download it. “We had 1.4 million downloads in just the first five days”, Calcaterra said today during a panel at the Digital Hollywood conference in Marina del Rey. “That was huge for this little tiny independent film”. Even more importantly, she said, 150,000 of the downloaders then went to the film’s website for more information. Of course, the deal might have attracted hundreds of thousands of possible audience members, but it couldn’t do anything about critic opinion — Arthur Newman’s Metacritic score is a rugged 42, and it made just $108K this weekend in its platform rollout in 248 theaters, a dismal $435 average.
The BitTorrent file-sharing technology has become a favorite way to efficiently transmit illegal digital copies of movies around the globe, so it has become a bete noire to many in Hollywood, even as the company of the same name has tried to persuade studios to use it to distribute film-related marketing and advertising material. “They’re not pirates, they’re a (file-sharing) protocol,” Calcaterra said of BitTorrent. “Our goal is to use technology to get the most eyeballs for our independent filmmakers.” BitTorrent currently is talking with Hollywood studios about several other high-profile summer films, with the long-term plan to build a direct-to-fan initiative for creators to share and monetize their own content.