Mike Fleming

In a move that creates another formidable buyer at Sundance, Cinedigm Entertainment Group and New Video will partner to bring more independent films into theaters nationwide by fully leveraging advanced digital technology. Cinedigm and New Video will together acquire North American distribution rights to indie films that will be released theatrically, followed by platform release across cable, VOD, digital, and DVD/Blu-ray. The partnership takes advantage of Cinedigm’s position as a digital exhibitor of independent film and alternative content in theatres, and New Video’s digital and physical distribution capabilities. Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk and New Video co-president Steve Savage feel this gives indie filmmakers a viable alternative and a strong ride through the ancillary road these indie films travel.

Cinedigm, which is transforming movie theaters into digital and networked entertainment centers, is already a buyer, and released 10 films last year on up to 1000 screens, McGurk said. New Video is the largest aggregator of independent digital content worldwide, with Amazon, Apple’s iTunes store, Hulu, Netflix and Walmart’s Vudu service as key partners. The agreement is effective immediately, and McGurk told me it was announced the first Sundance weekend to give them traction at a festival flush with acquisition titles. They’d like to come away with a film or two.

“We’re strong on both ends of digital distribution, and our model of a digital backbone offers an opportunity for precise marketing, and there is more money in these downstreams,” McGurk said. “That is the alternative we’re offering.

“New Video has a strong 20-year track record of creative marketing and innovative release strategies for film and TV,” McGurk added. “Adding in Cinedigm’s quality digital theatrical capabilities to New Video’s proven expertise opens up a unique and advantageous release opportunity for independent filmmakers in all key channels of distribution. This arrangement also underscores Cinedigm’s commitment to provide our digital theatrical network with an expanded stream of high quality content as we rapidly grow our core distribution business.”

Said Savage: “There is opportunity and demand for great independent cinema. Cinedigm and New Video are creating a new distribution model that’s specifically designed to maximize today’s fast-moving digital landscape. Together, our acquisitions teams will target both talent-driven independent films with broad appeal, as well as niche or specialty releases.”