It may not have been the plan from the
outset, but Vancouver-based Pacific Northwest Pictures is definitely
getting to know what Canadian women want.
The upstart distributor’s latest acquisition, the Helen Hunt-directed Ride,
is the latest in a roster of female-focused films acquired by the
company for distribution across Canada. Other recent acquisitions
include Rubba Nadda’s October Gale and Liv Ullman’s Miss Julie. Even the male-directed and led films on PNP’s roster have been driven by female characters, including Roger Michell’s Le Week-End (starring a sassy Lindsay Duncan) and Jason Priestley’s Cas and Dylan, starring Tatiana Maslany alongside Richard Dreyfuss.
But despite the appearance of a theme, PNP VP Emily Alden says the
company is not looking to corner the market on female-driven films. It’s
simply a gap in the market PNP has been addressing while building up
“It’s something that happened organically. It’s kind of a nice
coincidence, but the only shift really is that the company has begun to
acquire bigger titles,” Alden told Playback Daily. “I
think that women 30-plus have been underserved for many years, and they
are a super-savvy audience. They like smart films, they like
entertaining films, and I am really glad we are able to be part of
bringing that to Canadian audiences.”
Since its launch in 2010, Alden said Pacific Northwest PNP’s strategy has been acquire well-acted, high-quality, commercially viable films with a broad appeal. And it’s working: Ride
represents one of the distributor’s most commercial films to date,
driven by Hunt’s longstanding audience appeal and increased involvement
due to her directorial role.
Pacific Northwest will be releasing
the film theatrically in select cities on May 1 (the exact theatres had
not yet been confirmed as of press time), followed by a release via
on-demand platforms on May 12. Alden noted that the cinematic quality of
the film makes it well suited to a theatrical release on the big
screen, but is also the type of film that people would like to watch at
“Our strategy has always been to use the theatrical release as a home
base, but really keeping in mind where else the film can live, what
audiences are going to see them and where we can find those
[audiences],” Alden said.
Leading up to the May 10 theatrical release for Ride,
Pacific Northwest will be doing a mix of traditional and digital
marketing to promote the film including print, broadcast and radio ads.
Hunt has also provided publicity support for the film, and the
distributor is working with her on a number of Canadian press
The target demographic for Ride falls into those over the
age of 30 with a natural female skew, said Alden, as the film centers
around themes of motherhood, reinvention and relationships. However, she
did note Ride is also a comedy, with a strong performance from Luke Wilson that can appeal to male audiences.
“There is something to connect to on different levels,” Alden said.
PNP will also distribute Cam Labine’s Mountain Men this
year, a decidedly male-focused film that debuted at the 2014 Whistler
Film Festival about two brothers lost in the wilderness. Other films PNP
will release in 2015 include The Legend of Barney Thomson, starring Robert Carlyle and Emma Thompson, and What We Did On Our Holiday with Rosamund Pike.