Sundance Channel will go to the extreme with a free video-on-demand package next week.
The Rainbow Media service is making an exclusive preview of the new season of its late-night Sunday destination Asia Extreme available to the on-demand platforms of its cable affiliates.
From Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, Sundance will present its entire 13-film lineup, including 10 U.S. TV premieres, in a free video-on-demand package, in high-definition, where available. The initiative, featuring films from Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan, is being supported by a dedicated Asia Extreme mini-site, as well as the debut of a sci-fi-action Web series.
Sundance's on-demand offerings have been growing in popularity. During 2008, the channel averaged 1.6 million monthly transactions, a total that has doubled through the first half of 2009, according to Rentrak On Demand essential.
Along with its package centering around the Sundance Film Festival, Asia Extreme is the network's second major on-demand stunt.
Sundance executive vice president and general manager Sarah Barnett said the service has spent a lot of time working as a "curator" in assembling this year's roster.
"Asia Extreme is very popular Sunday-night destination. This year's lineup has cutting-edge films that will appeal to fans across the genre," said Barnett. "These are good-quality films, including 10 U.S. TV premieres. It's not a case of one or two standing above the others."
The lineup includes an unprecedented 10 U.S. television premieres: Dae-wung Lim's Bloody Reunion; Ho Choi's Bloody Ties; Benny Chan's Divergence; Akihiko Shiota's Dororo; Songyos Sugmakanan's Dorm; Johnnie To's Election; Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai's Mad Detective; Johnnie To's Triad Election; Nicky Loi's The Victim; and Feng Xiaogang's A World Without Thieves.
Rounding out the package are Norio Tsuruta's Premonition (a Sundance Channel premiere), Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's 6IXTYNIN9 and Chan-wook Park's Old Boy.
Bowing in concert with the VOD package, www.sundancechannel.com/asiaextreme will showcase exclusive video interviews with the directors, actors and creative minds behind the films, as well as blogs, video extras, making-of videos, deleted scenes, trailers, photo galleries and music videos from the films. Sundance Channel will also feature original blog posts exploring the state of Asian cinema throughout the month of August at sundancechannel.com/sunfiltered.
"This will let viewers get beneath the surface of how these films were put together," said Barnett. "Our audience wants to find out more and over-indexes when it comes to using technology to find content."
Additionally, Sundance will flank the stunt with an original 12-episode Web series The Captive that will premiere online on Saturday, August 1 on the Asia Extreme mini-site. Created by Stuart Hynson Culpepper and Karin Diann Williams, it follows an unsuspecting twenty-something who is spirited away to the depths of a secret prison, where he faces a brutal interrogation and attempts to escape with the help of a seductive, but enigmatic trustee.
"This is a good companion to the cutting-edge films Sundance is presenting on Asia Extreme," said Barnett.
Participating affiliates have committed to running cross-channel spots throughout the month. Asia Extreme begins its linear run on Sept. 6 at midnight with Election.