Kino Lorber Partners With Art House Theaters to Launch Streaming Service Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Brazilian drama “Bacurau” will be first title to screen via virtual release

Indie distributor Kino Lorber is partnering with art house theaters across the country in launching an online film exhibition service called Kino Marquee designed to help generate revenue for independent theaters shuttered during the coronavirus crisis.

Kino Marquee will host virtual releases for participating theaters that were previously scheduled to screen the distributor’s latest release, “Bacurau.” And Kino Lorber has sent invitations to all 60 theaters that had previously committed to book “Bacurau” in the hopes of expanding the service.

Films will be booked from Fridays to Thursdays and will be presented on dedicated web pages headed by each theater’s branded marquee and will be available to stream for a rental period. So even though the Marquee service is hosted through Kino Lorber’s Kino Now VOD streaming service, the only way to access the landing page for new films will be through the website of your specific, local art house theater. Movies that perform well can then receive virtual “holdovers,” and any revenue will be split between distributor and exhibitor.

Among the participating theaters thus far are Film at Lincoln Center (New York, NY), BAM (Brooklyn, NY), Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville, NY), The Little Theatre (Rochester, NY), Santa Barbara International Film Festival Riviera Theatre (Santa Barbara, CA), The Frida Cinema (Santa Ana, CA), Denver Film/Sie Film Center (Denver, CO), Belcourt Theater (Nashville, TN), Loft Cinema (Tucson, AZ), Austin Film Society (Austin, TX), Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH) and Aperture Cinema (Winston Salem, NC).

“When theaters started to close, we at Kino Lorber turned our thoughts to how we could collaborate with our independent theater partners across the country. We cannot release the kinds of films we do without their support,” Wendy Lidell, SVP of theatrical distribution at Kino Lorber said in a statement. “Of course we wanted to find a way to keep our current film release in front of audiences, but to do so in a way that would also benefit our exhibition partners. We want to help ensure that these theaters will be able to reopen their doors after this crisis passes. The Kino Marquee program offers an opportunity for theaters to generate revenue while their doors are closed.”

Kino Lorber hopes to continue the Kino Marquee program with virtual releases for other upcoming films on the Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist slate of first-run and repertory titles, at least until theaters are able to reopen. The Kino Marquee initiative will be scaled up in the coming weeks in response to market demand. All virtual screening rooms will become operational over the next few days.

“As a company whose mantra has always been ‘experience cinema’ we’re keen to help our exhibition partners maintain their visibility and value in launching the whole media career of the carefully curated films we all care so much about. We’re all in this together and will come through it stronger with the support of the film-loving communities our theaters serve,” Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber said in a statement.

“Bacurau,” the first film being screened on the new service, first opened at Film at Lincoln Center on March 6 and played there until the theater closed on Mar. 12 in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. That included canceling a Q&A with the directors of the film who had traveled to New York from Brazil to attend the screening. The film also briefly opened for one day at BAM on Mar. 13 before it shut down.

“Bacurau” is directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles and stars Sônia Braga and Udo Kier. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 2019 and went on to play the Toronto and New York Film Festivals.

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