On March 5, 2008, IFC and Blockbuster announced a new partnership. The deal between the independent film distribution maverick and DVD rental behemoth will give Blockbuster exclusive rental rights to the films released by IFC’s distribution company, IFC Entertainment. Blockbuster will have a 60-day period after a new film is released by IFC Entertainment in which the film will not be available anywhere else. After this grace period, the new release will be available in retail outlets, but Blockbuster will still retain exclusive rental rights for three years.

Perhaps more exciting, for independent films fans at least, is that Blockbuster is also promising to highlight not only IFC Entertainment releases but other independent films in stores around the country. Close to 1,000 of the chain’s locations have created specific independent film sections to help promote independent cinema.

First up on the shared movie slate? Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, which opens theatrically on March 7th and was recently nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards; Tom Kalin’s Savage Grace, which stars Julianne Moore and was a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; Joe Swanberg’s critically acclaimed Hannah Takes the Stairs; and Christophe Honore’s French-language Dans Paris.

Keith Leopard, director of film product at Blockbuster Inc., is certainly excited about the deal, noting that, “This agreement with IFC is a great opportunity for Blockbuster to provide our customers with convenient access to the best of independent film.”

IFC Entertainment films will not only be available at Blockbuster’s stores, but through their mail subscription service and digital download service as well.