Mel Gibson’s latest action extravaganza Get The Gringo is set to bypass theatres altogether and arrive on DirecTV on May 1st. The film will cost $10.99 per viewing during this exclusive period, and then later in the year it will hit other outlets on Blu-ray, VOD, and digital download.

The deal, with 20th Century Fox, is something of a coup for Gibson’s company Icon Productions and it could mean that Gibson earns another fortune from a film which he has not only financed, but also released through a unique distribution angle.

This radical release strategy follows a few years of personal problems for Gibson and the release of The Beaver, a black-comedy directed by Jodie Foster, which grossed less than $1 million at the US box office, and a little over $6 million worldwide. Some may argue that Gibson’s fan base has deserted him, and that this release is a way of minimizing expenditure through prints and advertising; however, it does fit into Gibson’s unique way of pushing the Hollywood envelope and giving audiences something that they might not normally get.

In 1989 Gibson founded Icon Productions as a way of getting the funding for Franco Zeffirelli’s Hamlet and through this company he’s balanced the mainstream with starring vehicles like Forever Young, What Women Want and Maverick with some trickier business propositions such as Immortal Beloved, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, the latter two earning Gibson over $611 million and $120 million respectively at the worldwide box office. He even risked his reputation at the peak of his success with Braveheart, an Oscar-winning hit that grossed $210 million in 1995, paving the way for such films as Gladiator.

Get The Gringo (formally How I Spent My Summer Vacation) returns Gibson to his action roots, offering audiences (what appears to be) a violent and funny film about a career criminal coping with life on the other side of the Mexican border. Gibson is something of a cross-gender star who appeals to males and females alike, with his Lethal Weapon franchise grossing almost $1 billion – not bad considering that the last installment was in 1998.

The film will get a limited cinematic showing (marketed by Icon, Fox DirecTV) in at “least 10 markets” including a screening in Austin with a post-film discussion with Gibson, his co-writer and director Adrian Grunberg and 10 year-old co-star Kevin Hernandez. This event will be moderated by Harry Knowles and beamed live to the other screenings. The film will get a cinematic release in countries such as Australia and Russia, where VOD isn’t as prevalent as it is in the US – where DirecTV has more than 20 million subscribers. Fox Home Entertainment president Mike Dunn said:

“As digital distribution evolves, we are constantly looking at new ways to bring the consumer greater access than ever before to our movies. Reaching nearly 20 million households on the DirecTV premium platform offers us an opportunity to explore innovative approaches like this one for Get The Gringo.”

According to Deadline (where you can also check out the trailer), “Gibson sparked to the chance to road-test a new distribution model” and Get The Gringo could be a way to add some credibility to VOD, expanding its core audience, and delivering exciting new films, that offer a cinematic experience at home.

A source is quoted as saying:

“We really wanted to lean into this, and they will do a very significant marketing campaign around it. It was a great way to launch this particular movie. A lot of those Sundance films going to VOD might not have a major star or be strong enough commercially to attract a wide audience. When we tested Get The Gringo, it tested 86% in the top two boxes, with all four quadrants.”

The VOD release of Get The Gringo doesn’t mean that Gibson is turning his back on releases on the big screen, as he is currently working on an untitled Viking tale written by Braveheart’s Randall Wallace, as well as another epic tale about Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee, which will be penned by Basic Instinct writer Joe Eszterhas.

At the very least, Get The Gringo should be a new chapter in Mel Gibson’s career and the success or failure of the film could have a major impact on how similar films are released and marketed.

Source Deadline