Arcade Fire & Spike Jonze short film gets geo-blocked

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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.

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