Coming Soon, an ongoing editorial feature from Playback, highlights the distribution strategies for soon-to-be released Canadian films. Here, we speak to Pacific Northwest Pictures’ Emily Alden, VP production and development, and Lindsey Hodgson, PNP’s director of distribution, about the strategy behind the platform release of October Gale

The film: October Gale follows a doctor named Helen (Patricia Clarkson) who is mourning the recent death of her husband, and decides to spend some time on the remote island cabin home they loved. A series of events leave her cut off from civilization once she arrives to the cabin. A boat then washes up on shore carrying a man who is unconscious and suffering from a gunshot wound. Helen saves the man but then is left alone on the island with this potentially dangerous stranger. The film stars Clarkson, Scott Speedman and Tim Roth.

Production credits: Directed by Ruba Nadda, the film is produced by Daniel Iron of Toronto-based Blue Ice Pictures, with Myriad Pictures’ Kirk D’Amico, Killer Films’ Christine Vachon and Pacific Northwest Pictures’ Emily Alden executive producing.

Distributor: Vancouver-based Pacific Northwest Pictures is handling the Canadian distribution of the film in the theatrical and post-theatrical windows. IFC Films has the U.S. distribution rights to October Gale.

Theatrical run: Prior to the theatrical run, the distributors began a pre-release strategy on October Gale last fall via the TIFF Film Circuit in an effort to build a grassroots audience for the film, said Emily Alden, VP production and development at Pacific Northwest Pictures and Lindsey Hodgson, director of distribution, in a joint interview. The distributor also used the same strategy for Jason Priestley’s Cas & Dylan, which won the Film Circuit’s People’s Choice Award for best Canadian film in 2014.

A platform theatrical release for the film kicks off on March 27, with runs in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and more markets to be added throughout April. The staggered release allows the film to build word-of-mouth buzz, and marketing and PR efforts can be focused on audience-building in expansion markets as time goes on, Alden and Hodgson said. The distributor is also in discussions to include the film as part of the Cineplex Event Cinema program in secondary markets.

Marketing: The distributor will be use both digital and traditional media to promote the film, including outdoor, TV, radio and print ads. A publicist is also working to secure radio, TV and print interviews across the country leading up to the theatrical release date.

Target audience: The target audience for the film are cinephiles, indie film fans and Ruba Nadda fans. The film has elements that can appeal to both male and female audiences, such as the thriller and action aspects as well as the dramatic and romantic sequences, said Alden and Hogdson.

Additional windows: After the theatrical release, October Gale will be available on on-demand channels across the country, iTunes and on DVD. After that, October Gale has an exclusive engagement on Movie Central and The Movie Network.

What makes this film unique?  “It’s rare to have a character-driven, intelligent thriller played by an amazingly talented Academy Award nominated actress. There are also wonderful supporting performances by Scott Speedman and Tim Roth. The cinematography is stunning, supported by the backdrop of the Georgian Bay,” Alden and Hodgson said in a joint statement.

Financing: The film received financial support from Telefilm Canada, the OMDC, the Harold Greenberg Fund, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, Movie Central, The Movie Network, Myriad Pictures and Pacific Northwest Pictures. The budget for the film came in around $5 million, producer Daniel Iron told Playback Daily.

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