New In-Home Theatrical VOD Service Launches

A new transactional VOD service offering early home entertainment access to European theatrical releases has launched in the United States.

Dubbed ROW8, the service aims to accelerate home entertainment access to exclusive premieres of foreign theatrical titles in the U.S. market. Users can rent movies for $7.99, watchable on Internet-connected TVs, Roku, Android and Apple devices.

Founded by entrepreneurs George Christoph and Jasmina Christoph, and led by CEO John Calkins (formerly head of digital distribution at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), ROW8 is working with industry advisors Craig Kornblau (former president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and current advisor to a number of companies in the GV [Google Ventures] portfolio), and Ken Ziffren, co-founding partner of Ziffren Brittenham.

The service features proprietary technology, guided by CTO David Rondan, offering filmmakers the flexibility of tailoring their in-home releases with session-identifiable watermarks.

ROW8 is initially available on Web, iOS, Android and Roku, with other platforms to follow.

Initial titles include Danish box office hit Darkland; The End?, a stylish and imaginative Italian horror film, and Box 27, an emotional family drama from France.

Calkins said ROW8 aims to focus on advances in digital marketing and consumer demand, in addition to creating alternatives to traditional release patterns for “forward-thinking” film distributors.

“We are passionate film lovers who understand the challenges that a rapidly changing landscape has created for theatrically released films the world over,” he said in a statement.

Initial studio partner includes Germany’s Constantin Films, whose titles Adidas vs. Puma, and World War II drama, Friends Forever are available to stream.

“We are excited to be among the first to provide films to the ROW8 service, and believe the time is right in the market for the consumer to have accelerated access to great theatrical films, without compromising the upside to filmmakers or the risk of being lost in a subscription video-on-demand bundle,” said Constantin CEO Martin Moszkowicz.

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