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Sundance Ups Star Power for Indie Titles

25 Jun, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

With a second-half 2004 slate of home video titles that feature mainstream actors Jay Mohr and Bill Pullman, among others, Sundance Channel Home Entertainment (SCHE) is attempting to make its edgy, independent image more commercially viable and saleable to the consumer.

The five new titles include Mohr and Julianne Nicholson in the romantic comedy Seeing Other People, written and directed by Wally Wolodarsky (“The Simpsons”), Aug. 17; the stylish and gritty time-shifter The Tesseract, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Bend It Like Beckham), Oct. 26; Duncan Roy's portrait of identity theft based on his own experiences in A.K.A., Sept. 14; Pullman in the chilling comedy Rick, Nov. 9; and Jamie Rafn's British crime thriller Soho Square Dec. 14. The titles are $26.99 each on DVD (priced for rental on VHS).

“We want to establish the line at retail and establish the brand in the consumer's mind, so when they pick up the titles … they will know that each title is different, but it all has that [sellthrough] capability,” said Mike Haney, VP of SCHE. “All five titles are very different but also a bit of a shift in that they are more commercially viable and feature higher profile actors.”

The releases bring to 20 the available titles in Sundance's nearly two-year-old catalog, which is earmarked for additional distribution on the Sundance Channel on cable as well as video-on-demand, according to Haney.

“We are in talks to provide the content in that direction,” Haney said. “We are very supportive of new technology. It fits into what independent filmmakers do. They embrace technology probably quicker than the average consumer. So in support of that, we feel that our core consumers are early adopters.”

That said, Haney said home video continues to be a savior to independent film.

“It's like 200 million theaters,” he said.

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