Cinema-on-demand takes off

20 October, 2014 by Don Groves

The initial results on films pitched to Australian moviegoers via cinema-on-demand platform Tugg, either as an exclusive offering or in combination with conventional distribution, have been encouraging.

The co-venture between the US-based Tugg and David Doepel’s Leap Frog Films has been holding screenings in Australia since March at Event Cinemas, Hoyts, Reading and independent cinemas around the country.


Pinnacle will utilise the scheme, which enables moviegoers to select a title from a library and organise screenings at participating cinemas, for the release of Decoding Annie Parker.  Steven Bernstein’s drama is based on true events which chronicles two remarkable women: Annie Parker, a three time cancer survivor, and geneticist Mary-Claire King, whose discovery of the breast cancer BRCA gene mutation was one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century.

Louise Wadley’s All About E (formerly The Trouble With E), a lesbian love story/ road trip/ thriller that follows a beautiful, sexy DJ on the run after she stumbles on a stash of cash, has received certification for the producer offset using Tugg and an in-depth marketing plan to show intent to distribute.

“Leap Frog is using Tugg both as the sole release strategy as well as a hybrid strategy, eg The Case Against 8 is in traditional release in Sydney and Melbourne and we are partnering with Australian Marriage Equality to host screenings around the country,” Leap Frog director of sales and marketing Andrew Hazelton told IF.

Screening at Cinema Nova and Dendy Newtown, The Case Against 8 is a behind-the-scenes look inside the historic case to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8. The docu sold 117 tickets at a cinema in Geelong on October 13 and Hazelton said Australian Marriage Equality aims to hold screenings in electorates which are regarded as swing seats. Tugg and AME plan to show the film at Parliament House in Canberra.

Tugg will be the exclusive outlet for Leap Frog’s Wrinklies, an animated film about ageing and Alzheimer’s disease, directed by Ignacio Ferreras, with a voice cast headed by Martin Sheen, Matthew Modine and George Coe.

Tugg is partnering on that film with The McCusker Alzheimer's Research Foundation and Lions Clubs around the country; the first screening is set for October 27 at the Windsor Cinema in Nedlands, WA.

The first US title from Tugg’s library to be shown in Australia was Why We Ride, a US documentary about motorcycle riding. The film sold 187 tickets in Manuka, Canberra, the best attended Tugg-organised screening to date.

The usual minimum for a screening to proceed is 70 tickets, and most have been held on Monday and Wednesday nights. Hazelton thinks issue-based films are most suited to this distribution/exhibition channel.

The cinema-on-demand concept will get a further boost from FanForce, which was launched at the Australian International Movie Convention by marketing agency The Solid State.