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Walk This Way Picks Up Peter Bebjak’s ‘The Line’ for Benelux, Italy and Spain (EXCLUSIVE)

Digital distribution initiative gives European arthouse a boost through VOD.

Peter Bebjak’s “The Line,” Slovakia’s submission for the foreign-language Oscar last year, has been acquired by Walk This Way, an initiative by digital distributor Under the Milky Way funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe – Media program, which will release the movie across digital platforms in Benelux, Italy and Spain.

“The Line” tells the story of a Slovakian cigarette smuggler whose business is jeopardized by the E.U.’s plan to redraw the borders of the Schengen zone, which allows for visa-free travel between member states. The first official co-production between Ukraine and Slovakia, the pic world premiered in competition in Karlovy Vary last year and became Slovakia’s second-highest grossing film of all time, behind only “Avatar.” Bebjak’s fourth feature, which screened this week at the Transilvania Intl. Film Festival, will also get a digital release through E-Cinema in France.

Walk This Way’s project coordinator Nolwenn Lucas says the movie “reveals a universal human story set in an environment in which cultures, traditions and lives intertwine.” Calling it a topical film that addresses “the refugee crisis and local people’s perspectives about refugees,” she says “The Line” “is a successful central European thriller… [that] has a lightweight approach about the political situation in Europe.”

Established in 2015 by Under the Milky Way, an international digital film distributor holding preferred aggregator status with iTunes, Walk This Way was launched to coordinate the release of European films on VOD platforms around the world. Active in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan and Latin America, the project targets international platforms, such as iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, as well as local ones, like Sky U.K., Universciné and Filmin.

“While 1,740 films are produced each year in Europe, only 37% of these films are distributed outside of their country of origin,” Lucas says, a fact that “demonstrates that the current system of international sales…is not adapted to current conditions anymore, as it leaves more and more films at the roadside.”

In an age of streaming services and other VOD platforms, European films – even by lesser-known directors from obscure countries – have a greater potential to travel than ever before. “Compared with traditional distribution, and for films difficult to distribute through a strictly territorialized model, digital distribution presents real opportunities,” says Lucas. However, she adds, “a large majority of European films do not benefit from this opportunity.”

One problem, she notes, “is that exploitation rights to most European films are not widely licensed outside of their country of origin, and are therefore either kept at a sales agent or producer level.”

She adds, “Both these actors of the value chain are not naturally structured and inclined to venture into digital distribution, and would rather find a distributor.”

Direct digital distribution “presents low entry costs” for European rights holders, she says, while pan-European platforms covering numerous territories with only a single point of entry “allows for a considerable smoothness in term of process, and a real cost efficiency.”

By the end of this year, she notes, Walk This Way will have helped to distribute 157 European films “both in- and outside of Europe, in territories where the films would not have been exploited otherwise.”

The initiative gives a boost to European auteurs like Bebjak, who is currently in development with his fifth feature, “The Report,” about two prisoners who escape the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, surviving a harrowing journey to Slovakia in order to share the story of the atrocities they witnessed. The report they compiled about the Holocaust eventually reached Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, influencing the course of World War II.

A Slovakia-Czech Republic-Poland-Luxembourg co-production, “The Report” is being produced at a time when right-wing extremism in Slovakia and across Europe is on the rise.

https://variety.com/2018/film/global/walk-this-way-peter-bebjak-the-line-1202828733/

 

FNE AV INNOVATION: Walk This Way: European Cinema on Demand

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2017-07-14

CONTEXT: DIGITAL, a new digital path for films in Europe?

PARIS: While 1740 films are produced each year in Europe, only 37% of these films are distributed outside of their country of origin. The difficulties to travel, encountered by the European film, demonstrates that the current system of international sales (« all rights » sales) is not adapted to current conditions anymore, as it leaves more and more films at the roadside.

Compared to traditional distribution, and for films difficult to distribute through a strictly territorialised model, digital distribution presents real opportunities.

Firstly, the direct digital distribution scheme presents low entry costs, composed of subtitling and encoding costs. In addition, the existence of pan-European platforms covering many territories with only a single point of entry for the supply allows for a considerable smoothness in term of process, and a real cost efficiency.

Moreover, digital distribution brings greater flexibility with the possibility to block or open windows of exploitation at any time and territory by territory.

Finally, the existence of specialised actors, the aggregators, representing a legal, technical, commercial, marketing, editorial and financial interface between the rights holders and the platforms, makes this new distribution form now accessible to all types of rights holders in Europe.

In these conditions, digital could represent in the long run a real distribution network and the opportunity to considerably improve the circulation of films in Europe. Making films available is a necessary condition but not sufficient to develop this sector. Marketing is indeed crucial and new strategies need to be investigated and experimented with to reach out to audience throughout Europe.

WTW:The Walk This Way Action: a concrete opportunity for European films

In this context, Under the Milky Way Website : http://galaxy.underthemilkyway.com, a Paris based aggregator relying on an international network, has launched in 2015 the Walk This Way (WTW) action, with the support of Europe’s Creative Media, to improve the circulation of films in Europe.

WTW aggregates and promotes films for straight-­to-­VOD distribution in the European Union and since 2017 also in Japan, North America and Latin America. The action is concretely contributing to improving the circulation of films in Europe through:

the operating of complex processes for the creation of digital and multilingual packages, subtitling, localisation of artworks and marketing material. (635 subtitles produced and 864 releases since 2015)
the crafting of an editorial line-up criteria and strategy that fits the wishes of the VOD consumers but that also takes into account the diversity and plurality of European Cinema.
the existence of a commercial network with specific business approaches towards VoD platforms. Specifically, Walk This Way provides, through its diverse film collections, ready-for-use packages to global and local VoD platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Sony, Microsoft, Google, Vudu, Filmin, Universciné and Sky.
the development of a specific expertise in promoting and marketing films directly to consumers on a variety of European markets,
Since the first WTW edition and after having released more than 85 films in 7 different collections, a progressive shift from European professionals towards international VOD distribution as a credible business model can be observed. The increasing figures and improving VOD market trends, both in terms of sales and visibility, support the credibility of the model’s growth. However, in a long-term perspective, the challenge remains to firmly establish this new distribution channel to promote and distribute European films while continuing to learn and develop a new expertise for markets where traditional channels (theatrical, physical video, etc.) are weakening or declining. Therefore, 2017 will be a crucial year, as it is the first time that the WTW scheme has been extended beyond Europe with even greater marketing resources.

About the Author: Muriel Joly

She is in charge of business development for Under The Milky Way. She began her career at StudioCanal (Canal + Group) first in the Domestic Home entertainment department, as a product manager (2004-2006) and then as a marketing VP for international Home Entertainment (2006-2009). After 2 years (2010-2011) in consulting, where she became interested in issues of the Video on Demand emerging market, she became in charge of marketing development for Canalplay, the VOD brand of Canal + group .

http://www.filmneweurope.com/news/region/item/114802-fne-av-innovation-walk-this-way-european-cinema-on-demand

Distribution networks get €1.15m EU funding boost

In 2016, the Creative Europe program is renewing Under The Milky Way two projects.

  • Walk This Way will enable the exploitation of more than 50 films on VOD platforms at the European level through direct support of technical and marketing expenses
  • TIDE 4 is the sequel to the previous actions and will focus on Italy, Spain and Portugal Day & Date Films releases.

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