Theatrical distribution has always been considered an extremely important stage in the film industry. Many big theater companies compete against each other year after year in order to be able to bring as many people to their screens. The big Hollywood studios have always worked towards a common goal, which is to pack the theaters with audiences that will assure them a great economical revenue. It would be foolish to think that this is the magic formula that will always work no matter what. In fact, from the independent perspective of the industry and thanks to the continuous progress of technology things have started to change a lot. The increased use of the Internet has allowed independent filmmakers and other smaller studios to get their foot in the door for the Video On Demand (VOD) market.
The digital markets in the film industry have evolved at an incredibly fast rate not just because the big studios from Hollywood have tried to explore all the different paths that could possibly exist in order to collect more stacks of money, but also, because the independent filmmakers have learned that their audiences can be found further away than just sitting at the theaters. It can be at a house, hotel, restaurant, private event, and VOD will always make its way to all those consumers out there who besides enjoying the cinematic experience at a theater, they will sometimes prefer to watch the same piece of material from the comfort of their place or wherever it is that they might have the desire to watch a movie, TV show, short film, etc.
“We need to recognize not every film has the opportunity to be available across the entire country in theaters. If we’re in Iceland, where six prints [of a film] is what it takes to own the country, maybe this isn’t necessary,” -Tom Quinn, co-president of Radius-TWC, a unit of film distributor The Weinstein Co. (Speaking to the Wall Street Journal)
Utilizing the advantages of both theatrical and digital releases is giving newer films an upper hand on the entertainment industry. It’s also helping the studio’s or the producer’s pocketbook as well. Say you have a new idea for a movie but the world hasn’t really seen anything like it, it could worry you a bit. Especially if theatrical releases are all you have to go with, but nowadays you can use theatrical releases along side with digital releases to not only help you save money but also help in spreading the popularity throughout the fan base or market that it creates. You can decided on a few select theaters in largely populated areas to release your movie to get a decent turn out and also make a good amount in ticket sales. Since the movie is limited people may travel to see it but not all the time. That’s where digital distribution comes into play. It will allow you to reach a wider audience. In a study done by the United Nations and posted by the LA Times nearly 40% of the world will have internet access by the end of 2014. That’s a grand total of about 3 million people. That includes both mobile devices and computers. This will allow a larger amount of revenue for these companies to receive by releasing their film in theaters and digitally.
We all know that VOD has been a go to for most independent films and their release. That’s not so much the same for studio hits because they are all mostly being released on the big screen in theaters. What about all of our talented actors and actresses, does VOD have an affect on them? Tim Roth who is a main actor for Broken said this to No Film School:
“Our chance of getting into a theatre, especially if you’re a tiny budget film, is near impossible. The idea that you slide into a theater nowadays, past “Iron Man” or “Despicable Me” or past these big budget movies, is a joke. It’s the hardest thing to do. You have to go the VOD route and with a limited theatrical release, if you’re lucky.” – Tim Roth
Most of the Hollywood’s top hits are with well known and highly established actors/actresses. With VOD is it giving a chance for the new upcoming class of actors to emerge. It’s a lot cheaper, accessible and comfortable to a viewer from home. As oppose to having to go to a theater, pay for multiple tickets, and only see one film. With VOD the average cost is between $7 and $15 from my experience. Yeah you can say it’s nothing like watching it in theaters because of sound systems and the overall atmosphere. The simple fact is that most actors feel their performance stands out on both platforms. The only downfall is the fact that some television releases won’t be qualified for different awards. However, the way this film world is changing everyday, I’m sure there will be a change in some rules to accommodate.