Getting Away With Murder(s)
Cinema distribution strategy and booking support
“Jonny, who has his ear to the ground all the time, is, in my opinion, this country’s leading expert at the non-chain cinema venues. He has now become part of my team, and I will leave all my future bookings to him.”
The UK cinema release of the acclaimed documentary feature Getting Away With Murder(s) by David Nicholas Wilkinson. The film is a 3-hour epic exploration of why so few of the perpetrators of Holocaust atrocities were ever prosecuted.
Our theatrical release strategy took into account the depth of the film’s investigative qualities and was devised as a touring release of one-day engagements. Almost all of the cinemas where Getting Away With Murder(s) would play would have a Q&A with David as accompaniment. Where possible David would have other expert guests alongside him. We released the film on the same day as the James Bond blockbuster No Time To Die, a counter-programming approach that also helped with securing review space, and planned the campaign to last for four months, ending on Holocaust Memorial Day 2022.
Getting Away With Murder(s) screened in 40 UK cinemas including the Everyman and Picturehouse chains, and several major UK independents. It received excellent reviews across the board including a 5-star review from The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw. It was listed as The Guardian’s best documentary of 2021, ranking overall 17th in the newspaper’s top 50 titles of 2021.
I have been releasing films for over 30 years. For most of that time, I undertook my own bookings with exhibitors both large and small, however, as time went by, many of my great long-standing supporters have moved on, and I found it more and more challenging to secure bookings for the less commercial films.
With GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER(S), I started booking the film, but it proved very awkward because I was not only the distributor, I also directed, produced, and presented the film. I went mad when one leading booker told me that he would not take the film because there was nothing new. While the first 20 minutes has information covered in other films about the Holocaust, the remaining 155 minutes does not; almost all film critics agreed with me.
It was very stupid of me to lose my temper, but I had been working on the film for 18 years. I knew that if I continued, I would mess it all up. I decided to try out Jonny Tull with the somewhat cynical view that he could do no worse than me.
As it turned out, Jonny worked above and beyond, ensuring that not only would some cinemas who rejected the film reconsider it, he managed to work out a contiguous tour of venues that I could visit which did not have me driving from Uckfield to Stirling back down to Chichester then back up to Glasgow. I totally trusted him.
It is a tough film, and with its long duration playing at a time of COVID measures, most of my core audience of 50+ was cautious about attending indoor gatherings, something of which all cinemas were aware. Jonny persuaded venues such as the Robert Burns Dumfries, Brewery Kendal, Lonsdale Penrith, Luxe Wisbech, Electric Palace Wotton-Under-Edge, and so many more to screen the film. I’m sure that some of these venues were worried as to whether they would attract an audience. As it turned out, the Q&As at all the venues really did make the whole venture worthwhile. We had such brilliant audiences who stayed for a very long time discussing what they saw for far longer than the cinema had allotted.
We are in a difficult time with cinema exhibition. With the prolific advance of the streamers, coupled with the significant rise in the cost of living, an outing to the movies has become a luxury that a great many are questioning. The art-house cinemas of my youth have become cash vehicles for shareholders. Therefore, releasing anything that is more challenging relies on small communities in council-run or charity venues who are willing to offer their local audiences a cornucopia of interesting, thought-provoking, and challenging films despite their lack of funds and resources.
Jonny, who has his ear to the ground all the time, is, in my opinion, this country’s leading expert at the non-chain cinema venues. He has now become part of my team, and I will leave all my future bookings to him as he is far better than I ever was.”
David Nicholas Wilkinson
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