Haifaa Al Mansour’s The Perfect Candidate, which was due for theatrical release in the UK on March 27, will instead be made available online to avoid the widespread disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has today seen cinemas close across the country.
The film will be rolled out that same date by distributor Modern Films through the Curzon Home Cinema platform (the VoD service owned by UK exhibitor Curzon), and will also be viewable through the BFI Player as well as Modern’s own streaming space on its website. The release is being backed by BFI Lottery Funds.
Eve Gabereau, Modern Films MD, explained that the decision was made because the promo push for the film is already well underway. ”As the campaign is already in progress, the feeling is to keep moving with it,” she said.
Gabereau added that the distributor is still hoping there will be a theatrical element to the release, at a time when the coronavirus spread has slowed and public activity resumes. It was not originally planned to be day-and-date.
Modern is not the first distributor to look to utilize online while the cinema space is in crisis. Yesterday, Universal said it would make multiple titles available early online, breaking the theatrical window, for a premium-priced rental.
Back in the early days of the coronavirus, when it was largely contained in China, the high-profile local production Lost In Russia was released online by Huanxi Media when the outbreak impacted the traditionally lucrative New Year box office period.
In the midst of crisis there may be some opportunity. With many stuck at home in forms of self-isolation, home entertainment is potentially more valuable than ever.
The Perfect Candidate premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival and also screened in Sundance.
“In line with the spirit of the film as a timely story and of Al Mansour as a brave director who is fighting for socio-political change through art and expression, we are committed to offering The Perfect Candidate as readily as possible without compromising the current wider health concerns and code of conduct around social distancing,” added Gabereau.
Cinemas across the UK and Ireland have begun to shutter today, including the country’s two leading multiplex chains, Cineworld and Odeon, and the boutique Picturehouse chain (which is Cineworld-owned). Several indie venues closed as well, including London’s ICA and BFI Southbank, and many more are expected to follow shortly.
This comes after the UK government drastically heightened its response to the coronavirus pandemic yesterday. In an address to the nation, the first of planned daily briefings during the crisis, UK PM Boris Johnson advised that people should avoid non-essential travel and should not visit public venues including theaters and pubs. That was not a direct instruction for public venues to shut down, but many have opted for that approach in response.
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