In theory, what Billy Zane and his partners are attempting with Romar Releasing should be embraced by the independent film community. Create an independent distribution company which allows filmmakers to get their movies into the exhibition market for a small fee and lets filmmakers keep the rights to their own films. Again, in theory, it's a great idea and one I would love to see succeed.
Note: This article has been rewritten since its initial publication, to reflect information obtained after publication.
FilmJerk.com has received word that a number of prints for Romar's initial release, Uwe Boll's "BloodRayne," have been misdelivered to theatres not booked with the film, if prints have even been delivered at all. One theatre employee says their print of "BloodRayne" was originally shown as being cancelled by the company handling print delivery for Romar, before being located in the delivery company's system. The theatre will now get their print of "BloodRayne" sometime Saturday morning, wiping out the all important opening day ticket and concession sales.
The problems, according to another source at a major exhibitor, may be that Romar, helping to keep their costs down, has only one person handling distribution. As a former employee of a independent distribution company and has friends who work distribution at major studios, I know firsthand you need more than a single individual working in distribution. There is a reason why every major company that handles wide theatrical releases has their own distribution division, filled with dozens of people who work specific zones all across the nation, making sure any problems are handled quickly and effeciently.
However, after speaking with James Schramm, the very affable CEO of Romar, he assures me that while there were some problems with print misdelivery (a few theatres that were once tentatively booked with the film received prints they should not have), those instances were quite minor and that the "BloodRayne" release has gone off incredibly well. Mr. Schramm told me by phone that Romar has almost two dozen people working distribution, and will be adding ten more by the end of 2006. He also states one of those new people will be a highly respected industry veteran with more than twenty years experience at a major studio, whose appointment will be announced in the coming weeks.
Schramm confirmed for me that Romar is quite stabile, and they already have fifteen films scheduled for wide release over the next three years, including Uwe Boll's next film, "Dungeon Siege," set for a December bow. "We're not going anywhere," Schramm said. This is good to hear, because what they are offering could lead to a re-emergence of truly independent cinema unseen since the last great independent distribution age of the 1980s.