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Sehring: Open Windows,And Let the Business in

New York — Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance
Selects and IFC Films, said the seeds of growth for the service
started sprouting with day-and-date VOD and has flourished
through the benefits of pre-theatrical releasing.

Sehring said that when IFC first assessed the theatrical
film distribution business, it already had an eye on pushing
titles from movie theaters to living rooms via cable.

Indeed, Sehring said IFC, some six or seven years into
its run in 2006, predictably found the traditional theatrical
distribution model was “an impossible business.” Then,
came day and date.

“To be successful you have to move with the current.
When we launched [day-and-date VOD] we saw the seeds
of growth,” said Sehring, noting that the last five years have
been the best in the company’s history.

It currently proffers content to cable operators’ subscribers
under three headings: IFC Midnight, horror and arthouse
erotica; IFC Films, which feature cast-driven titles
like Jane Fonda-starrer Peace, Love and Misunderstanding;
and Sundance Selects, housing prestige titles plumbed from
Sundance and Cannes, foreign titles and documentaries.

Sehring said the company is seeing good traction with
pre-theatrical positioning: making a film available at a premium
price 30 days before it debuts in theaters. Although
business is good, Sehring believes it could be better. Improved
cable interfaces are on his wish list, as is promotion
from the Hollywood community.

“Seeing the movie on the big screen is not necessarily the
biggest part of [the business]. You don’t see a George Clooney
at NCTA, but you might see a Steven Soderbergh, because
he gets it,” Sehring laughed, before adding that some
films can derive 30% to 50% of their revenue from the VOD