As DVD Sales Flail, Can Direct-Mail Help Indie Film Avail?

circle of trustIn a marketing move straight from the late '80s or early '90s, indie film label Oscilloscope Pictures is starting a direct-mail DVD of the month club. (SubPop Singles Club, anyone?) The company, founded by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch and former ThinkFilm VP David Fenkel, will send you the next 10 Oscilloscope DVD releases about a week before the official release date, shipping included, for $150. Members of the "Circle of Trust," as the club is called, also get previous Oscilloscope releases for half price.

As DVD sales slump—at recent industry event Blu-Con 2.0, Fox Home Entertainment president Mike Dunn said he expects disc sales to be down about 12% year-to-year in the fourth quarter—lower-selling indie films are pushed to the side or never picked up for distribution in the first place. A move like this from an up-and-coming indie house like Oscilloscope, which is behind distributing this year's well-received, Oscar-buzzing drama The Messenger, just confirms that smaller houses are begging for revenue anywhere they can get it.

And the indie crowd just might be the perfect set to target. Look at FilmMovement, a 7-year-old company founded on the premise that film lovers will pay for the surprise of an indie film in their mailbox each month. FilmMovement attends festivals around the globe and buys theater and DVD distribution rights, spreading indie magic to those who can't attend for about $11 a month.

A potential problem with Oscilloscope's plan is the oft-blamed brat of the movie industry itself, Netflix. A quick search through the Netflix library shows that most of Oscilloscope's films are available there, some even streaming instantly. Not exactly a push for the direct-mail option, especially since indie film buffs are almost certainly Netflix members already.

The DVD market has fallen 10% since it peaked in 2004, and it fell a 6% to $22.4 billion last year alone. And with Blu-Ray not catching on as hoped, even after three years on the market, the home entertainment industry is flailing. "Nobody's happy," Fox's Dunn said at Blu-Con 2.0, "but you still come to work every day." Hopefully smaller indie filmmakers and marketers can continue to work as well, even if direct-mail is the only option.

[Via The Hollywood Reporter]

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