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Cinedigm, BitTorrent Partner for New Colin Firth, Emily Blunt Movie

22 Apr, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Digital distributor shows 7-min clips of ‘Arthur Newman,’ on infamous piracy file sharing network prior to its theatrical bow.

Multiplatform movie distributor Cinedigm April 22 began offering free 7-minute opening clips of Arthur Newman, starring Oscar winner Colin Firth and Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt, on file sharing network BitTorrent — four days before the indie launches theatrically April 26.

“Newman” follows the mid-life travails of Wallace Avery (Colin Firth), who decides to make a radical change by walking away from his old life. He buys a new identity and hits the road as Arthur Newman bound for Terre Haute, Ind., where he dreams of reinventing himself.

While sneak peaks and clips of theatrical releases online aren’t new, offering legitimate content on a file sharing network synonymous with piracy is a twist.

It underscores BitTorrent’s efforts to legitimize a reported user base of 170 million. Movie studios lost nearly $2 billion in revenue on potential disc sales for the top 10 pirated movies of 2012, according to a recent research report, which cited data from BitTorrent.

“We’re able to connect Cinedigm with real movie fans that actively support content creators and by doing so BitTorrent can demonstrate how we add value through continued innovation,” said Shahi Ghanem, chief strategy officer of BitTorrent, in a statement.

B. Riley & Co. analyst Eric Wold said Cinedigm is looking for creative ways to effectively promote their indie films to the right audiences and for the right cost.

Wold said Cinedigm has made mixing up traditional distribution of movies a hallmark of its business plan. It distributes indie movies and TV shows via 11,600 digital theatrical screens with 269 exhibition partners, DVD and Blu-ray Disc, electronic sellthrough, and transactional and subscription VOD.

The company’s library features about 19,000 movies and television episodes. Recent release The Invisible War, about rape in the military, was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Feature Documentary category.

“If this initial effort with BitTorrent proves successful, I would expect them to continue to work together on future films,” Wold said in an email.

The analyst believes Cinedigm didn’t opt for Facebook and YouTube to promote “Newman” (besides cost) due to the fact visitors to those social media sites are looking for something other than movies. Meanwhile, people primarily frequent BitTorrent to watch movies — for free.

“Cinedigm is not held to the traditional marketing/promotional ways of other studios,” Wold said. “Can you imagine a large mega-studio partnering with BitTorrent?”

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