Freakonomics: The Movie Out Today on iTunes Only

The Freakonomics movie that premiered this spring at the Tribeca Film Festival is released to the public today — but only on iTunes (and on some Video on Demand cable systems), nearly a month before it hits theaters.

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This is a unique release strategy, and we are being given credit for it even though no credit is due. (The same could be said for the film itself: yes, we appear in it, but all the real work has been done by the producers, directors and distributor.) This pre-theatrical release was cooked up primarily by producer Chad Troutwine, Magnolia Pictures (the distributor) and the folks at Apple.

“This is the first real pre-theatrical release for us, and I think it’s a big deal,” Glenn Bulycz from iTunes Marketing told me. “I believe consumers feel like there is some cachet to being able to talk about a film that’s pre-theatrical (the premiere or ‘screener’ effect). Portability is a key message for us here – iPad, Laptop, etc. lets people get and watch anywhere anytime.”

Here’s Troutwine talking about it in a press release:

Global theatrical attendance remains strong, but the emergence of new technologies and the frantic pace of their adoption have expanded film consumption habits. The Freakonomics distribution model embraces technology, allowing us to engage filmgoers who understandably prefer a theatrical experience, but to also reach a wider film audience who consume content through digital platforms.

It will be interesting to see the effects of this strategy, and whether it’s copied by other distributors and studios — or if, perhaps, they all think the idea is totally daft. It is easy to compile arguments on either side of the issue. On the pro side, there’s: accessibility, buzz, and “cachet”; on the con side, there’s — well, I’ll let you fill in the blanks. Your thoughts?

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  1. frankenduf says:

    cool- can u tell us which bootleg sites will be carrying this?

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  2. Sherad says:

    You can watch this movie at Amazon.com via their video on demand service. I’ve seen the film and enjoyed it. Only 1 segment was meh.

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  3. j says:

    Is there anywhere we can get this in Canada?

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  4. Doug Huisken says:

    This film is also available on the Roku, t.v.-top device, which is primarily used for Netflix streaming.

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  5. Nick says:

    I watched it On Demand in HD. Ran me $10, but I got to see it on my TV in HD instead of on my computer (and I may have a coupon for $5 off any on-demand title)

    I liked it. Basically a visual representation of the book, except the Sumo part makes a lot more sense with interviews and footage. At least to someone not familiar with Japanese culture

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  6. Chris says:

    It’s available on Comcast ONDEMAND for $9.99 — probably less than what it would cost to see it in the theater next week.

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  7. Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team says:

    I predict this moviie will go BLOCKBUSTER and even out perform Hollywood glamour action-adventure Special Effects Pictures released this weekend like The American with Geo Clooney.
    **** For Certain Nerdy Subgroups.

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  8. Witty Nickname says:

    “Left Behind: The Movie” did something similar in the late 90′s / early 2000′s. It was a Christian movie about the Rapture and the book series had sold millions.

    They released it on video and DVD before they put it in the Theaters hoping people would tell their friends how great it was, and then they would go see it in the theaters.

    As I recall, the videos SOLD well, but the movie was OK, not terrible, but not great. It bombed in the theaters. They didn’t make any more films despite their being around 12 books in the series.

    I always thought it would have made more if they had put in in the theaters first. Hopefully yours is a good movie, and this experiment works well for you!

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