News Column

Why is Diablo Cody's directorial debut 'Paradise' coming to TV first?

August 2, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 02--So, wait: Diablo Cody's directorial debut is coming out in a few days?

This seemed to be the resounding reaction on Twitter Thursday, when the Oscar-winning "Juno" screenwriter announced her new film "Paradise" would premiere on DirecTV Aug. 9.

"Most directors force you to LEAVE THE HOUSE to see their movie," she tweeted. "[Y]ou can watch mine naked with a bag of Mint Milanos."

Well, if you want to see it at home, that is. The movie, which stars Julianne Hough, will also get a theatrical release in 10 markets in October -- two months after it debuts on video-on-demand to DirecTV subscribers at a cost of $10.99 for an HD rental and $8.99 for a non-HD rental.

While it's become increasingly common for new independent films to be offered both in cinemas and on televisions, typically this occurs "day-and-date" -- meaning the movie is available to consumers on both platforms simultaneously. A few films have been offered via "ultra VOD," which allows fans to see them before they hit theaters, but usually there's no more than a couple of weeks between the release dates.

DirecTV set up the release plan for "Paradise" with theatrical distributor Image Entertainment about three months ago, according to Hanny Patel, the satellite television company's senior director of revenue and product marketing.

"We've been trying to bring exclusive content in an earlier window to our subscribers since last year," said Patel. "The whole idea is that often times these films don't get representation across America, but with our 20-million subscriber platform, you have broader access."

Though this may be true, VOD still has a negative connotation to many in Hollywood who fear it implies their movie isn't good enough to warrant a big-screen release. Many filmmakers will choose a non-traditional rollout only as a second resort after it's clear a theater-centric approach isn't an option.

But Cody maintains she's excited about the unconventional plan. The filmmaker said she is intrigued by the VOD success of the raunchy comedy "Bachelorette" last year.

"There's a much bigger stigma attached to opening on too many screens and tanking," the filmmaker kidded via telephone Thursday evening.

"Paradise," which was filmed last year on a $5-million budget, stars Hough as a conservative evangelist who renounces her faith in Las Vegas after getting into a plane crash. The picture, which also stars Russell Brand, Octavia Spencer and Nick Offerman, will get a red carpet premiere in Hollywood on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, though Cody is embracing her movie's non-traditional release pattern, she also admits it's not something she had control over.

"I don't know a director who is in on the distribution strategy, or if it's necessarily ever OKd with the filmmaker," she said. "But they believe in my movie, and I'm excited to be trying something a little different. I think VOD is a pretty good place for an indie rom-com right now."

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(c)2013 the Los Angeles Times

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