Want to premiere a feature film starring some A-list Hollywood celebs? There’s an app for that. Or at least there will be, come Sept. 21. That’s the day Berlin Film Festival hit “Rage” premieres on the iPhone and iPod touch, where it will appear before satellite, DVD or online.
“Rage” is written and directed by British filmmaker Sally Potter, and is an episodic tale of a behind-the-scenes look at a New York fashion show. It’s shot to look like a schoolboy is recording events with his mobile phone over a seven-day period. The movie will be released in seven episodes, downloadable via a free application for the iPhone and iPod touch, and be available starting Sept. 21.
In case it takes star power to sway you, “Rage” boasts quite the cast list. Dame Judi Dench takes part, as does Jude Law. Other stars taking part include Steve Buscemi, Eddie Izzard and John Leguizamo. Nothing to sneeze at for something that’s going to be competing with fart simulators and novelty noisemaker applications.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, following the app’s release on the iPhone platform, “Rage” will debut on DVD in the U.S. on September 22, on satellite in the UK on Sept. 24, and online via Babelgum (who is also behind the iPhone app) on Sept. 28.
Of course, in this case, the iPhone’s preferential treatment is due largely to the nature of the film in question. It makes sense to premiere a film shot to look like it was made with a mobile device on a mobile device. But could this be the beginning of a new distribution model for filmed media?
TV and film already have launch day access to the mobile market, of course, via iTunes sales. But there’s a new breed of content that falls between that and YouTube-type independent productions. Xbox’s “The Guild” is a good example. These kinds of programs would benefit from a separate, app-based distribution model, taking advantage of iPhone OS 3.0′s new in-app purchasing feature to charge per episode. That way, they don’t necessarily need the backing of a major distribution partner, and they can provide show context, cast and crew information all from the same place users get their content.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Dame Judi or Mr. Law, and regardless of whether you care about New York’s fashion scene, be sure to check out the free premiere of “Rage” when it comes out in a couple weeks. At the very least, you’ll be witness to an ambitious failed experiment. At best, you’ll be watching the start of something new.