‘Blade of the Immortal’. 

In a throwback to the common theatrical release practice of decades ago, US crime thrillers Shot Caller and Sweet Virginia will premiere as a double-header at Dendy Cinemas on November 30.

Sibling Icon Film Distribution is taking this back-to-the-future approach to both titles as part of its ongoing efforts to prove the value of the premium VOD (PVOD) model.

Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays a happy-married businessman who is sent to jail for DUI in writer-director Ric Roman Waugh’s Shot Caller. 

In jail he loses his previous identity and becomes estranged from his wife and son. Upon release he is forced to orchestrate one last dangerous crime.

Jon Bernthal plays a motel owner and former rodeo star in small town Alaska who befriends a young man (Christopher Abbott) with a propensity for violence in director Jamie M Dagg’s Sweet Virginia. The screenplay is by Australian twin brothers Paul and Benjamin China, whose debut film was 2011’s Crawl.

After premiering as a double bill each film will screen for one session a day on alternate days and will be available to rent on Dendy Marquee for $19.95 and on Foxtel Store from December 6.

Sweet Virginia has a rare 100 per cent approval rating from the critics on Rotten Tomatoes and Shot Caller is graded as 74 per cent positive. Icon regards both as too commercial to be released straight-to-video and will offer both to other exhibitors.

The next PVOD release will be Japanese director Takashi Miike’s 100th film, Blade of the Immortal, which stars Takuya Kimura and Hana Sugisaki.

The saga of a skilled samurai who is haunted by the brutal murder of his sister  and believes fighting evil will be his redemption, it will open at Dendy Cinemas on November 16 followed by Dendy Marquee on November 22.

Kriv Stenders’ Australia Day was the first PVOD release on Dendy Marquee and Foxtel Store, followed by Universal Home Entertainment’s The Girl With All the Gifts and Transmission Films’ The Limehouse Golem.

Dendy/Icon is yet to share the buy rates for Australia Day but is confident the model will be a sustainable distribution strategy for niche features and documentaries.