As theaters shutter and big studio films postpone wide theatrical releases, indie and arthouse films are trying their best to navigate the waters of the coronavirus outbreak. Like big banner titles, many indie films that were set to release this weekend are opting to delay their debuts, while a handful are opting for a digital release — which is often common for the specialty space.
The Mangurama/Abramorama title Dosed was set to be released in theaters in New York starting Friday and was set to expand on March 27 in Los Angeles. Instead, they have opted to do a global release on digital with 10% from every purchase of the film going to coronavirus disaster relief, which will be matched by Facebook. Once theaters reopen, they will pull the film from streaming and resume theatrical release.
The film follows Adrianne, who, after years of prescription drugs fail her, turns to underground healers to try and overcome her depression, anxiety, and opioid addiction with illegal psychedelic medicine like magic mushrooms and iboga.
In a statement from filmmakers Chandler and Nicholas Meyers, they said: “We’re wishing everyone health and happiness through these unprecedented times and hope that the virus is stopped quickly. Humans are social beings and we’re devastated to imagine that some theatres locally owned and operated by families in cities and towns across the country may not survive shutdowns that ban social gatherings.”
They added, “The movie experience is a beloved pastime for friends and families in the USA and around the world and so Dosed will return to theatres when the time is right, to support communities, continue fundraising for the ongoing crisis featured in the documentary that includes depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction issues. At such time as the country returns to normal Dosed will be made exclusively available to theatres, taken off online platforms, and we’ll bring the psychedelic communities together to connect with people, discuss these topics, and feature Q&A panels making the theatrical screenings events where people can learn from Adrianne’s story and feel the hope and inspiration so many have had from previous theatrical screening events prior to the closures.”
“We cannot allow the potentially cataclysmic effects of this virus to distract us from the potential of Dosed to enlighten so many people about the curative properties of psychedelics for people struggling to regain their footing,” said Abramorama/Mangurama principals Richard Abramowitz (CEO) and Karol Martesko-Fenster (COO) said. “Accordingly, we are proud to work with the filmmakers to bring this film out into the world where it can do some good.”
Dosed has already held 96 screenings in North America and has shown in Australia, United Kingdom and Europe. It is still scheduled to premiere in Africa in May.
Vertical Entertainment’s drama Human Capital has also pulled the plug on theatrical and pivoted to digital. The Marc Meyers-directed drama will be available on VOD/Digital starting today and will be released in theaters at a later date.
Making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film, Human Capital follows the lives of two families as their lives become intertwined after an impulsive business deal and a tragic hit-and-run accident. The film stars Liev Schreiber, Marisa Tomei, Peter Sarsgaard, Maya Hawke, Fred Hechinger, Betty Gabriel and Alex Wolff.
The Elevation Pictures sports drama The Grizzlies is opting to not go on digital after canceling its theatrical release. The film, directed by Miranda de Pencier, executive produced by Frank Marshall and Jake Steinfield, is based on a true story and follows a group of Inuit youth in a small community that gain a powerful sense of pride through the sport of lacrosse. The film also stars Ben Schnetzer, Booboo Stewart, Tantoo Cardinal, Emerald MacDonald and Will Sasso.
The Lightyear Entertainment family drama The Etruscan Smile starring Brian Cox was all set to hit select theaters on Friday, but since the outbreak, it has decided to just release the film digitally and on BluRay on June 16. The film was adapted from Jose Louis Sampedro’s bestselling book La Sonrisa Etrusca and directed Mihal Brezis & Oded Binnun. It was already released November 1 in New York and Los Angeles for an Oscar-qualifying run.
Quentin Dupiex’s French dark comedy Deerskin starring Jean Dujardin was set to open exclusively at the Angelika in New York, but the film’s distributor Greenwich Entertainment is still deciding whether to release it digitally or wait for a later theatrical. Annie Silverstein’s acclaimed Cannes drama Bull starring Rob Morgan, Yolanda Ross and Amber Havard is in the same boat as the rest of them and has decided to debut on digital and VOD on May 1.
Focus Features is also jumping in on the digital game. As previously reported, Focus Features is releasing Emma, which performed well at the box office pre-COVID-19, on VOD along with numerous Universal titles. The Eliza Hittman Sundance winner Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which was released last week in New York and Los Angeles, has ended its theatrical run due to the pandemic and there is no news on how the film will move forward. Meanwhile, it seems that Focus has kept its future release dates in place including Promising Young Woman (April 17), The High Note (May 8) and Irresistible (May 29).
Other specialty box office delays include Sony Pictures Classics’ The Climb, Well Go USA’s Cut Throat City, Searchlight’s The Personal History of David Copperfield and Antlers as well as Strand Releasing’s The Artist’s Wife. Roadside Attractions has pushed its release of The Secret: Dare To Dream while Bleecker Street has shifted debuts for Dream Horse and Military Wives for the time being to May.
A24 has made the decision to re-release Kelly Reichardt’s critically acclaimed First Cow later this year. “We are confident that later this year the theatrical landscape for independent cinema will be back in full force, and we look forward to introducing First Cow to a wider audience then,” A24 said in a statement. The film marked a career-high box office opening for Reichardt.
As the box office navigates through these uncertain times, it is pushing indie distributors to get creative with their releases. Kino Lorber launched their Kino Marquee initiative and things are getting inventive for the release of Deborah Kampmeier’s sexual exploitation revenge drama Tape starring Isabelle Fuhrman and Annarosa Mudd.
Originally, Tape was scheduled for a March 27 release, but will instead launch online in a theatrical model starting March 26. The film will be available at theatrical screening times and be followed by online live panel discussions about the film and the topics it addresses through Crowdcast.
Together Films, founded by Impact Distribution Strategist Sarah Mosses, put together an innovative solution that focused on the collective power of conversation that is in line with the topics covered in Tape. Together Films and Picture Motion, will also host a webinar on March 23 at 2pm ET for industry colleagues to discuss the range of available digital options currently on the market during these uncertain times — they could very well change the landscape of the model of the theatrical release. It’s already happening, so the filmmakers and distributors might as well lean into it.