Magazine article Screen International

Puttnam Takes Aim at VPF Model

Magazine article Screen International

Puttnam Takes Aim at VPF Model

Article excerpt

Lord Puttnam calls for greater release flexibility, clarification of VPF model, launches educational website.

Lord Puttnam has called for greater flexibility around film releasing to bolster the distribution of independent films in the UK.

During his annual industry keynote in London Film Distributors' Association president Lord Puttnam highlighted three areas where he thought greater flexibility was required.

The first addressed the ongoing dissatisfaction among many distributors with the current VPF model:

"If the demand exists for a film's run to extend to more cinemas, there is something rather ludicrous in penalising such a release with repeated digital fees on the odd occasion when a DCP happens to cross to a cinema with a different digital deployment company. This seems to me utterly counter-intuitive and, ironically, restricts the number of choices audiences might otherwise enjoy," lamented Puttnam.

"This point was identified in Lord (Chris) Smith's Film Policy Review, published 15 months ago and accepted by the Government. Hopefully a rigorous review of progress will be initiated later in the year."

Former producer and Columbia head Puttnam also called for more experimentation and flexibility around release windows: "Surely the time has come to allow sufficient modern-day flexibility for rights-holders to fashion the most appropriate individual release strategies, because no single uniform plan can possibly suit every film. Ultimately no one gains from excessive dark periods between platforms, when films cease to be available - legitimately, at least!

"There is - crucially - no evidence of flexible windows causing any discernible reduction in cinema-going. In fact most of the available evidence suggests that the reverse is true: People in the US, where a little more flexibility prevails, remain the world's biggest spenders on film, at around $80 per head. …

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