Meet Reid Rossman, Senior Vice President of Digital Distribution at Kino Lorber.
Reid oversees multichannel distribution at Kino Lorber including direct to consumer home media sales, digital licensing, and their family of consumer and corporate facing websites. We recently sat down with Reid to discuss Kino Lorber, the effect the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the film distribution industry, and how Kino Lorber has worked with our team and the Logic Platform to bring a Virtual Cinema experience to independent arthouse cinema fans and patrons.
How long have you been at Kino and what were you doing prior?
I've been working with Kino for 17 year now, although when I started I was a consultant for the company. It was an organic process. I came in from a photography background. My first job in New York City was with the The Bettmann Archive (later to become Corbis). Photography was going digital and I was young, willing, and fortunate enough to become the lead planner for their first digital image system.
Tell us a bit more about Kino Lorber for those who aren't familiar with this legendary company.
Kino Lorber has a history going back more than 40 years. We distribute international films, documentaries, and classic cinema releases into art-house theaters, but also release movies for home viewers on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital.
What do you think makes Kino Lorber unique in your industry?
I'd like to say it's our team. Our office is filled with people who love all types of films. As we loaded films onto the Kino Now service it became clear that we had a hand-picked collection that stands out from the pack. There's an "All Films" link in our header that shows off the range of titles we offer.
You're surrounded by great films all the time. What kind of films do you enjoy watching?
I love B Movies and classics. Lately, I've also had a lot of fun screening international television shows for possible distribution. It’s been great to see these long form stories that have cinema like sensibilities. I’ve been very happy to have taken part in the United States rollouts of Deutschland 83, The Bureau, and a new miniseries called Proud that we are rolling out through virtual movie houses next month.
Do you have any favorite films or top directors you would recommend?
My taste is all over the place, spanning from to films that are fun to films that are dark. So filmmakers like David Cronenberg and Sam Raimi, Terry Gilliam, so many. I saw Rian Johnson's Knives Out the other day, quirky, fun, and well acted.
Covid-19 is having a huge impact on theatrical releases. Movie theaters have been forced to close their doors to the public. How has this impacted the industry?
The theatrical business was blindsided by Covid-19 as releases were being cancelled and theaters were going dark. Fortunately, we were positioned well, having just launched our Kino Now rental service. We were able to create, and were probably the first to market the Virtual Cinema offerings you are now seeing everywhere. We're working closely with several hundred theatrical partners to offer a home viewing platform for the films that would have opened in their movie houses. We're calling this Virtual Cinema since the offerings are available only via movie houses.
Kino Now - Experience cinema at Kino Lorber's video on-demand service.
It all began with the Film Society of Lincoln Center screening of Bacurau being cancelled due to Covid-19. This is when Cyber-NY stepped in to assist you with creating a virtual screening of the film as an alternative for patrons. What was that experience like? Was the screening a success?
This was a unique situation as our opening was scheduled for the Film Society at Lincoln Center and other theaters, then suddenly everything was cancelled. Within three days working with Cyber-NY we were able to create a theater exclusive offering for the film. The movie houses were able to reach out to their patrons who were planning to see our film, and we were able to find a way to share revenue with them in this time of need.
Also, working with Cyber-NY there were really three components that needed solutions. We had to make sure the films were presented and branded as theater exclusives. We needed the ability to make custom pages for hundreds of theaters. Finally, we had to make sure we had the infrastructure to capture referral data so we could pay the theaters. The Logic Platform and the Cyber-NY team were able to address all of these issues.
Kino Marquee - Virtual cinema for independent theaters to screen films online.
This led to the launch of Kino Marquee. Tell us about Kino Marquee and how it’s being received by the industry, film fans, and theaters.
The reception has been positively immense. Theater owners are happy they have a method to present movies to their audience and earn some money while their doors are closed. We are getting letters from patrons who are thrilled to be able to see the films and also support their local theaters. I think the driving components are the dedication that the audience has not just to seeing film, but also supporting their local institutions.
You’ve been receiving some impressive press coverage during this time. It seems that Kino is really an industry leader on this front and others are trying to emulate what you are doing. Can you tell us about some of the press you’ve received?
It started with industry publications like Deadline and IndieWire, but the story became much larger in scope and expanded into more mainstream press like New York Times, LA Times, and Entertainment Weekly. This is an active story and we expect coverage to continue as theaters gradually reopen. Here are a few of the quotes.
"...an innovative partnership to keep art houses in business."
"The Kino Marquee initiative allows movie fans to support their local theaters while staying at home."
"...simultaneously gets (Kino Lorber's) movies in front of viewers and helps theaters keep the lights on in the meantime—a win-win."
"...designed to emulate the moviegoing experience as much as possible"
"...groundbreaking...enables an online release of movies by mimicking elements of the theatergoing experience."
"Want to watch great films and support art house cinemas that were forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic? Kino Marquee has you covered."
It’s amazing how fast everything has changed within weeks. Can you tell us a little more about the dedicated screening for American Nurse? This was another screening that you set up during this time.
The American Nurse is very timely and relevant for sure. This is a sponsored screening that was being prepared before the COVID-19 outbreak. The filmmaker Carolyn Jones has a very personal and caring approach to filmmaking that is reflected in the film. We welcome all your readers to check it out at https://kinonow.com/american-nurse.
Overall, how has the Logic Platform changed your ability to adjust to a very rapidly changing business environment?
The Logic Platform has given our staff the flexibility to create and customize pages quickly as we need them. Your development team worked with us to launch new sites. The Kino Marquee site we just did is a great example of how we were able to work with your team to roll out a custom site in a matter of days. We have an updated version already in the works.
And we have to say we barely hear from you, you guys have really been able to run with it.
We're all self-starters so it's essential we have a toolset we can run with. Our customers have been able to navigate the pages very easily which at the end of the day is what really matters.
What’s in store for the rest of the year for Kino?
Well I think from the thousands of people who are utilizing Marquee you can expect to see an expansion of the Kino Marquee platform. Right now we're improving our sites, adding more apps, and most importantly, adding more films. Our theatrical release schedule is still very strong. One key film to watch for is called Capital in the 21st Century which is based on a bestselling novel by Thomas Picketty. Here's the trailer below, or on the Kino Marquee site. We just released this via virtual movie houses this month.
Capital in the 21st Century - Official Trailer
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