Local Cinemas Embrace Online Experiment to Ride Out Coronavirus Closures

AFS, Alamo, and Violet Crown all screening online

Balloon, one of the films being offered for virtual screening rooms that will also benefit local cinemas as they face financial hardship during the coronavirus crisis.

As cinemas closed in the face of coronavirus, there have been widespread fears that many may never open again. That concern has been deepest for art house cinemas. However, in a new wave of experimentation, indie distributors are creating virtual ticket booths that still benefit theaters - including several in Austin.

In the traditional distribution model, cinemas books films from distributors, and they split the revenue from ticket sales. With theaters closed, that means no revenue for anyone, and distributors seemed wary of turning straight to VOD, as this could cause further damage to the vital ecosystem of indie cinemas.

So a new model has emerged, and it was first offered by indie and art house label Kino Lorber under the Kino Marquee banner. They would offer a virtual box office deal with independent and art house cinemas, who would act as local distributors for their films. This is a far remove from how the major studios, which have either held back releases or pushed them to regular VOD, completely cutting out the theaters.

Locally, AFS Cinema was the first to adopt this system, opening Brazilian action-drama-satire Bacurau from Kino Lorber, but several other cinemas and distributors have quickly followed suit, with both Alamo Drafthouse and Violet Crown joining the initiative.

Moreover, several other distribution houses have followed Kino Lorber's lead. Film Movement is offering Polish Oscar nominee Corpus Christi, Chinese gangster flick The Wild Goose Lake, plus the eagerly-awaited restoration of L'Innocente for $12 for a three-day rental. That's the same price as Magnolia Pictures, which has created virtual theaters for Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band and The Whistlers. Distrib Films has offered a $10 rental for Balloon and The Perect Nanny, while Vimeo is offering both $4.99 rental and $14.99 purchase for Fantastic Fungi.

More titles are being added daily, and here is the complete list of theaters and films around Austin that are taking part in this bold new initiative:

AFS Cinema

Bacurau (tickets here). Read our full review.
Fantastic Fungi (tickets here). Read our full review.

Alamo Drafthouse Austin

Bacurau (tickets here). Read our full review.
Balloon (tickets here). Read our full review.
Corpus Christi (tickets here). Read our full review.
Once Where Brothers (tickets here). Read our full review).
The Perfect Nanny (tickets here). Read our full review.
The Wild Goose Lake (tickets here). Read our full review.
The Whistlers (tickets here). Read our full review.

Violet Crown

Corpus Christi (tickets here). Read our full review.
L'Innocente (tickets here).
Sorry We Missed You (tickets here). Read our full review.
Once Were Brothers (tickets here). Read our full review.
The Whistlers (tickets here). Read our full review.
The Wild Goose Lake (tickets here). Read our full review.

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Coronavirus, Violet Crown, Alamo Drafthouse, AFS Cinema, Distrib Films, Magnolia Pictures, Kini Lorber, Kino Marquee

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