In a bold move, The Weinstein Co. and Yahoo are teaming to make the Simon Cowell-produced film "One Chance" available for streaming this fall on Yahoo Screen 10 days before it begins rolling out in theaters.
The British independent film, directed by "The Devil Wears Prada"'s David Frankel, is based on the real-life story of Paul Potts, a bullied shop assistant and amateur opera singer who became a YouTube phenomenon after being selected by Cowell to appear on "Britain's Got Talent" (Potts would go on to win). James Corden, who won the Tony for best actor in 2012 for "One Man, Two Guvnors," stars as Potts.
Looking to preserve the theatrical experience, cinema operators have long been opposed to playing a movie that is being made available early on digital platforms or DVD. However, some make exceptions when it comes to independent titles, such as "One Chance," that only play in select theaters, versus launching nationwide.
Also, distributors have the option of renting theaters (known as four walling) if exhibitors are reluctant to strike a traditional deal. In the case of "One Chance," TWC will indeed end up renting some locations.
TWC isn't a novice when it comes to shortening the theatrical window. Division Radius is largely dedicated to making films available theatrically and digitally at the same time, or within several weeks of each other, including current release Snowpiercer. One Chance ups the ante in terms of streaming first and then playing on the big screen.
Harvey Weinstein's team originally intended to open One Chance in February following its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2013, but pushed back its release to March and then to Aug 29. Insiders say the dramedy now won't hit theaters until the fall following its exclusive Yahoo engagement (no specific date has yet been made public).
The deal for One Chance is part of of Yahoo Screen's aggressive push to expand its programming options. Earlier this month, the streaming service announced it had acquired the sixth season of NBC sitcom Community after the broadcast network canceled the show. Yahoo Screen also struck a pact in recent days with Live Nation to stream a live concert every day for a year.
"Every day we help Yahoo users find inspiring and entertaining content. We are excited to bring One Chance, a fresh and emotionally compelling film, to Yahoo Screen, thanks to our new partnership with The Weinstein Co.,” Yahoo chief marketing officer Kathy Savitt said in a statement.
Added TWC COO-president David Glasser: "In today's digital era, technology has developed and changed the landscape of how many people watch movies and TV. Our partnership with Yahoo has allowed us to adapt and expand our reach to limitless audiences."
One Chance is considered a particularly good fit for Yahoo Screen in light of the Live Nation pact and its music-minded audience. The soundtrack for the movie was scored by Theodore Shapiro and included the Golden Globe-nominated original song "Sweeter Than Fiction" by Taylor Swift.
The movie has made north of $9 million overseas, including nearly $4 million in the U.K., where it was released last fall.
Natalie Jarvey contributed to this report.
This article was first published by The Hollywood Reporter