Indie DVD to Get Wal-Mart Exclusive20 Apr, 2005 By: Brendan Howard
The independently financed and produced Saints and Soldiers is getting a big welcome to DVD, thanks to an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart.
The No. 1 retailer has picked up exclusive big-box rights to sell the World War II drama, which has picked up $1.3 million in limited release. Stores nationwide will also include in-store advertising.
“It's not just a regional buy,” said Ashley Smart, spokesperson for Excel Entertainment Group, which is distributing the film. “This is the biggest buy they've ever done with an independent film. This is the case of the retail giant backing the little guy.”
The DVD also will be available to smaller retailers on street date (May 31). It prebooks April 26 at $29.99. Blockbuster and Hollywood Video will be carrying it as well May 31.
Saints and Soldiers was produced by Brigham Young University film school graduates Adam Abel and Ryan Little. It tells a story based on real events of a small group of poorly equipped American soldiers who are fighting behind German lines to get vital information to their commanders.
The film has earned 15 best-picture or audience-choice awards at film festivals as well as critical acclaim and two Independent Spirit Award nominations for best first feature and best cinematography.
Salt Lake City, Utah-based Excel, which distributes films theatrically and on home video, started in 1998 with the Mormon film God's Army and specializes in “good family entertainment that may or may not have a religious undertone,” according to Smart.
Saints and Soldiers has a “Christian angle,” Smart said, with characters discussing religion and one character nicknamed “Deacon,” who could be of the Mormon faith, but whose theology is kept deliberately vague by filmmakers for universal appeal.
“There was a Protestant [preacher] who came up to the filmmakers and said, ‘Thank you for putting a Protestant character in there,’ Smart said.