Upset that you couldn’t talk any of your friends into going to see all four hours of Steven Soderbergh’s Che with you? Well, good news! Starting tomorrow, IFC in Theaters On Demand will make the epic two-part film available for rental in the comfort of your own apartment. (It might be a good idea to buy some extra popcorn–that sucker is long.) Additionally, the film company will release other current movies to home viewers in the coming months, including Matteo Garrone’s Italian mob epic Gomorrah and Steve McQueen’s Hunger. And! As if that’s not enough, IFC also announced an exclusive partnership with the upcoming South by Southwest Film Festival which will allow five films screened there to appear simultaneously on demand, including the premiere of Joe Swanberg’s latest mumblecore entry, Alexander the Last, starring soon-to-be Indie It Girl Jess Weixler.
Even for New Yorkers like us who are used to being able to see whatever film we want whenever we want, this is quite exciting. Many small independent and foreign films can fall through the cracks, and, if you miss seeing them, it can be months before they get released on DVD. As IFC president Jonathan Sehring says, "at a time when the U.S. marketplace for truly American independent and foreign films is rapidly changing, and many films are having difficulty getting exposure, IFC Films has created new and exciting opportunities for a wide range of films to find an audience." Yes sir! Chances are, more people will see something like Gomorrah or Alexander the Last via IFC in Theaters than would have theatrically. And while Che has been a success thus far, grossing over a half million dollars in very limited roadshow runs in major markets, it’s easier to envision someone checking it out on demand than in a four hour block in a movie theater.
The only issue we have with IFC in Theaters On Demand with regards to Che is that the film almost begs to be seen on the big screen. Mr. Soderbergh’s lush photography and Benicio Del Toro’s larger than life performance will seem castrated on a small television set, especially in the lower quality of image that on demand viewing has to offer. Still, this is a minor quibble, since the point should be to get as many people to view the film as possible. Faced with harsh economic realities, we wonder how long it will be before other independent film studios adopt this same releasing pattern with their product. Not only does the on demand initiative allow nearly 50 million people the opportunity to see these movies whenever they chose, it also offers the chance for the movies to make actual money. What a concept!