The company has slated documentary The Wall: Climb for Gold as a global PVOD release in January, with more than 50 film and TV titles now in the pipeline. Steve Rosenberg, Premiere’s chief commercial officer, and Michele Edelman, head of growth, are overseeing the new push.
The idea to expand as a distributor, the execs told Deadline, came from outreach from clients using Premiere for a range of other services but trying to navigate a complex marketplace. While large-scale film releases have their bases covered, stakeholders in the specialty business face a number of complexities as the theatrical window faces ongoing scrutiny. PVOD, which first shot to prominence in early 2020, has remained an important part of any release playbook.
“It started to catch our attention,” Edelman said in an interview. “A lot of these customers didn’t really have a clear vision of where they wanted to go. The beauty of us is that we know the whole end marketplace. We know what it looks like.”
In particular, experience with large tech platforms like Amazon, Apple, Google and others is something the company believes it can use to filmmakers’ advantage. Across the world, from offices in LA, Connecticut and Bangalore, the privately owned Premiere works with more than 1,000 digital platforms of varying sizes.
The Wall follows four elite female climbers over a two-year period as they try to get to Tokyo for the first Olympic climbing competition. The film chronicles the path through grueling training sessions and then the uncertainty of the onset of Covid, which forced the postponement of the Tokyo Games. The film, which was brought to Premiere by Windfall Films, is an example of something that “might just sit on a shelf somewhere,” Edelman said. “We can take it out in a larger way.”
Rosenberg noted that the process by which audiences discover new films is an inexact one that varies widely across various digital platforms. “We’re not going to be able to put out a title that does not have a hook with someone’s social following,” he acknowledged. Categories like politics, religion and female empowerment, however, have all been consistent draws in PVOD, Edelman noted.
Premiere’s traditional wheelhouse is a bit distinct from traditional distribution, but the realms are starting to come together. The company helps with content ingestion, preparation, management and delivery/distribution of media assets. In handling UHD and HDR materials for video, audio, image, closed-captioning or subtitles. it has developed tools used by most studios to track their content on consumer platforms.
In terms of viability, having more than a decade in the tech and back-end of show business makes Premiere viable in a space known for volatility, Rosenberg maintained. “There’s been a lot of shifting in the distribution/exhibition space, with consolidation over the years, and fewer companies doing this,” Rosenberg said. As a “hard-core servicing company with an aggregation business, we’re not dependent on these people’s royalties to pay Michelle and I, or the people who work at our company. We have a full-on servicing business that allow us to do this and not worry about that shell game when you have a couple of movies in a row that don’t hit and then all of a sudden someone’s left holding the bag, like, how do we pay the next people?”