David Halbfinger has a noteworthy piece in The New York Times today revealing that Ed Burns will release his new film, Purple Violets, a $4 million indie production starring Burns, Debra Messing, and Selma Blair, exclusively on iTunes.
From the piece:
When Edward Burns’s latest romantic comedy, “Purple Violets,” had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, it drew positive reviews, but only lukewarm offers from movie distributors.
Mr. Burns, the director of indie favorites like “The Brothers McMullen” and “She’s the One,” but whose latest movies have not done as well, knew from experience how that story would end, he said: “Not enough money to market the film, not a wide-enough release to even make a dent in the moviegoing public’s consciousness.”
The film, which will be the first feature to premiere on iTunes, will be offered there exclusively on iTunes November 20 and then the filmmakers will presumably seek other ancillary distribution later.
Halbfinger’s piece goes on to discuss Burns’s efforts within the context of new opportunities for filmmakers through web distribution, citing several makers of short films who have done well. He also discusses it within the context of competition within the digital download space, noting that Apple faces an increasing challenge from sites like Jaman.
The piece notes too that Apple gives filmmakers biannual (as opposed to quarterly) revenue statements, meaning that it may be a little while before Burns finds out how successful his experiment has been. I’ve been beginning to do some research for a piece on the actual revenue possibilities for films with name talent that don’t receive major theatrical distribution. For a while it’s been assumed that the talent secures you a decent DVD release or TV deal. Lately, however, I’ve been hearing from producers that those numbers are not nearly so assured. So, I’ll be interested in how Burns’s experiment pans out as well and hope to have gathered some other such info sooner than six months from now.