U.K. Distributors Take Steps to Support Independent Cinemas Amid Coronavirus

U.K. cinemas remain shuttered due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and while some of the large chains with deep pockets have the wherewithal to ride out the crisis, independent cinemas are suffering. Some U.K. distributors have come up with solutions to remedy this.

Modern Films was due to release Haifaa Al-Mansour’s festival favorite “The Perfect Candidate” theatrically on March 27, but instead released it online on Curzon Home Cinema, the BFI Player and its own website. Customers choosing to rent the film via Modern’s website will see a drop-down menu at the purchase point that allows them to select and support a cinema of their choice. Part of the proceeds will go directly back to the cinema.

Similarly, 606 Distribution, which has released Nora Fingscheidt’s Berlin winner “System Crasher” online via Vimeo, gives renters the option to select a cinema of their choice who will receive 10% of the after-tax profit. Distributor New Wave Films is expected to join the initiative soon, with existing online titles including Bi Gan’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and Benjamin Naishtat’s “Rojo.”

Modern Films already has 22 participating cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland, all of whom had previously programmed “The Perfect Candidate” for a theatrical run and are keen to keep their membership base and mailing lists active.

Modern’s managing director, Eve Gabereau, hopes that “audiences will actively respond to the alternative offering to them from home.”

Jason Wood, creative director, film and culture at Manchester’s Home cinema, said: “In an environment where visiting a cinema is not a possibility it is important that audiences still have access to a wide and diverse range of film culture and films that push boundaries and challenge perspectives and perceptions. ‘The Perfect Candidate’ is certainly a title that does that. Perhaps most ground-breaking is the initiative from Modern Films to allow the audience to nominate a percentage of the viewing rental fee to an independent cinema of their choice.”

Meanwhile, repertory distributor Park Circus is highlighting an integral part of the independent cinema experience – the voice of the programmer. Beginning with Paul Vickery of the Prince Charles cinema in London, Park Circus will make available a series of interviews with global programmers on their YouTube channel. The company is looking to talk to a range of global programmers including Andrew Simpson of Newcastle’s Tyneside cinema, Julie Pearce at the BFI Southbank, London, Jan de Vries of Kino Rotterdam, Jules McLean from the New Beverly Cinema Los Angeles and Bruce Goldstein of New York’s Film Forum.

The Park Circus online content, titled Cinemoments, will also dip into their library of 25,000 titles and feature uplifting moments in cinema from classic titles such as “Big” and “A Matter of Life and Death,”; themed compilation clips from films; and behind the scenes and iconic archival images from “Some Like It Hot,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The African Queen,” “Alien,” Blade Runner,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” and series of Stanley Kubrick titles. The content will be available by the end of this week.

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