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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.


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?