Who remembers purchasing a $4.99 movie on Pay-Per-View and getting to view it all day? It felt great to not have to leave the comfort of your home to stand in line at the local Blockbuster. Pay per View still exists, it’s just been rebranded, and this is where Video On Demand (VOD) comes into play. You have access to a rather large library of movies and more recently T.V. shows. Just like everything else, the game has evolved. Now we are dealing with titles being shown that are in theaters or titles being available weeks before the Blu-Ray comes out. VOD has started a new trend in how we view movies, but what does this mean for the Indie filmmaker.
Bloomberg Businessweek discusses the cost of VOD vs Theatrical releases:
“As good as this movie is, it would have been a tough sell at the box office,” says Gitesh Pandya of researcher Box Office Guru. “They have tremendous competition from other summer action movies.” He also points out that VOD allows word of mouth to build without the specter of a dwindling number of screens showing the film: “You can have people still seeing this movie two months from now—that’s hard to do theatrically.”
Overall they spent roughly $5 million on marketing. Now if they would’ve chosen to do a theatrical release, it would’ve costed them roughly $25 million to release on 2,500 screens. They did a limited 8 theater release in June, 2014 and made $171,187. While also releasing it on VOD, earning $2 million during the first week. They choose the VOD path because the amount of potential profit they would make.
Just weeks after opening in only eight theaters and later having an expanded release of 356 theaters, Snowpiercer has had a strong showing in the VOD box office. After three weeks in the theaters, the film had grossed $2 million and then went on to make over $1 million through VOD. This is part of a multi-platform release strategy that, if proven successful, could be a part of the plan for many independent films. Snowpiercer is available not only on cable on demand but digitally as well as through the iTunes store, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and the Sony Entertainment Network.
Snowpiercer is not the only success story that VOD has brought forth. Several films have had success on VOD. Nicholas Refn’s Only God Forgives made $1 million dollars I the box office but made $2.4million in VOD sales. Drinking buddies starring fan favorites Anna Kendrick and Olivia Wilde made back its entire budget back with VOD sales alone. And the biggest story and quite possibly what Snowpiercer’s producers are hoping for is the success of The Bachelorette, starring Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott, has grossed a whopping $2.8 million dollars. So if Snowpiercer wasn’t enough, or if you thought it was a Korean Sci-fi train movie type of thing… think again.
Bob Dylan put it best when he said, “the times they are a changing.” That could not apply more then it does to what VOD is doing to the Entertainment industry. The big studios fear change and potential loss of profits. Some say it’s a sign of bad things to come. The indie guys see a light at the end of a dark and very rejecting tunnel. I think the best analogy for it as follows: My favorite restaurant just started doing delivery, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep visiting it.
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