TLA Releasing ‘Mini-Fest’ a Success

JC Adams,
PHILADELPHIA — TLA Releasing has announced the successful trial run of a traveling “mini-festival” of gay-themed independent films. The movies were grouped under the “TLA Releasing Presents” banner and recently played one-week engagements in New York, Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

“Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon,” a biographical documentary of legendary erotica star Jack Wrangler, is among the initial group of six films.

The TLA Releasing Presents collection grossed nearly $32,000 in seven days. Multiple screenings in each market were accompanied by Q&A sessions featuring filmmakers from each film.

The limited-run engagements are intended to “help build awareness and critical support for their imminent DVD releases later this year,” the company said.

“TLA Releasing Presents marks a new approach to theatrical distribution for us and it has exceeded our expectations,” TLA Releasing President Raymond Murray said.

“We plan to continue our mini-fest strategy for upcoming films as it gives us an outlet to target our audience and provide a fresh opportunity for our films to be seen in theaters,” Murray said.

The other films joining “Wrangler” were romantic thriller “Bangkok Love Story”; comedies “Boystown” and “3-Day Weekend”; and dramas “Dog Tags” and “I Dreamt Under the Water.”

Theatrical distribution for independent film has become “increasingly difficult,” TLA Releasing’s National Press Liaison Lewis Tice told XBIZ.

He attributes the problem to increasing competition from video-on-demand, as well as the skyrocketing costs of prints and advertising.

“We value the importance of being able to watch a movie in a theater as a community,” he said. “By presenting the six gay films for one week, it helps our demographic focus on the films as an event, as opposed to an individual title getting lost among other theatrical releases.”

He noted that TLA Releasing has never had a problem landing theatrical distribution for most of their films because they typically feature “a pop sensibility.”

The challenge, he said, has been to get paying audiences into an auditorium. “Since [mainstream] culture has gotten supportive of gay content, there is so much to choose from and at times, it can be overwhelming,” Tice said.

He described gay audiences as a core demographic for TLA Releasing films.

However, he added, “We do find that women and film lovers do come out in support. The mainstream and gay press has been incredibly supportive.”

Tice cited features in The Village Voice, New York’s HX Magazine, alternative newspaper L.A. Weekly and TV Guide as “broadening the awareness of our films.”

Whether in a mini-festival, online or on DVD, “people want to see queer entertainment,” he added.

TLA Releasing is the theatrical distribution arm of TLA Entertainment Group.

In related news, sister company and online retailer TLA Video has announced that Carol Coombes will join as a managing editor.

Her duties will include “working to develop and nurture our growing and popular lesbian catalog,” the company said. She had previously served as Director of the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Coombes will additionally serve as Associate Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Film Festival. The fest is a presentation of the Philadelphia Film Society, whose Artistic Director Raymond Murray also is President of TLA Entertainment Group.