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Summary:

The Spike Jonze short film scenes from the suburbs, featuring music by Arcade Fire, was scheduled for a worldwide online premiere Monday. However, arthouse movie site MUBI got a last-minute request to block viewers from the U.S., Canada, Germany and Australia from accessing the video.

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Countless indie rock fan were left disappointed Monday when a short film collaboration between Grammy winner Aracade Fire and acclaimed director Spike Jonze was inaccessible to viewers from the U.S., Canada, Germany and Australia.

Jonze’s short film Scenes from the Suburbs was scheduled to be made available for free online to promote the release of a limited edition of the Arcade Fire album The Suburbs. The 28-minute video features music from the band and was co-written by Jonze and Arcade Fire band members, as well as brothers Win and Will Butler. It has been described by a reviewer as a dark coming-of-age story, and was scheduled for a worldwide online premiere on MUBI.com.

MUBI’s founder and CEO Efe Cakarel told me that he got notified at the last minute by the band’s manager that the short film could not be shown in the four countries to protect the release of the physical album. The album was released on Monday as well in a number of countries, but won’t be available in the U.S. until August 4. It will come with a DVD featuring the entire short film as well as additional material.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed,” Cakarel said. He couldn’t tell whether the site will have a chance to show the video to viewers from the U.S. and the other affected countries anytime soon. “I hope that viewers will get to watch this film at some point,” he said.

MUBI, which got its start under the name The Auteurs, made itself a name for showing indie and arthouse movie productions online. Dealing with what is essentially a long-form music video was a bit of a different experience for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup. “It’s an order of magnitude more complicated,” explained Cakarel. However, his team felt like it had to act when the chance to show the Jonze film came along. “When we saw it, we tought: This is good cinema,” he said.

  1. I find myself wondering what the contract for showing it on their site said. It seems to me that they were under the impression that they didn’t have any restrictions, until that last minute call. Which leads me to think the contract said nothing about such a thing, or else they would’ve expected it and not needed a last minute notice. Since they still abided by the request, I wonder what the language in their contract said, which made them have to cancel out the four countries without having expected that in the first place. Which cuts into the site’s profits & promotions.

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  2. Frank Boyle Monday, June 27, 2011

    OK, apparently Arcade Fire is playing “slave to the music industry” here. They claim that the film was blocked online to “protect the release of our new vinyl album”. Uh-hu. My opinion of the band is now greatly diminished. And I expected more from these Canadians.

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    1. They claim that the film was blocked online to “protect the release of our new vinyl album”.

      The short is already on the torrents so someone should explain to them the folly of that statement.

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    2. Your opinion of the band is now greatly diminished??? Get fuckin real. So what? you have to wait an extra month for something that you’ll get for free.

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  3. It’ll be out almost everywhere else next Monday, but won’t be released in the US until August 4th, really?

    Do they really want as many Americans as possible to download the whole album illegally?

    Also the film’s blocked in Canada and the US? Isn’t the band from Canada??!!

    It seems like Arcade Fire’s not responsible for this, but rather some stupid sales people or studio executives.

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