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 Video on demand before theatrical release, Seriously, I don't get it
Jim Donahue
Posted: Feb 6 2012, 10:28 AM


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Can anyone explain the logic behind putting a movie on video on demand for a month or two before theatrical release? It makes zero sense to me.

THE INNKEEPERS, which used this pattern, just opened dismally--"$30,500 on 25 screens (that’s $1,250 per screen)" per the AV Club--this weekend. To give one more example, the Tim & Eric film will be VOD for something like two months before opening in theaters.
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Bob Cashill
Posted: Feb 6 2012, 11:37 PM


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It's a concession to reality, or the reality as distributors see it. Numerous indies/foreign films aren't going to move past the major cities, or even two or three major cities, so this gives them national exposure, in a hurry, and an exclusive window that perhaps flatters would-be buyers (who also aren't privy to those pesky reviews).

It's like there are no "platforms" anymore; it's basically all just one release, to VOD and a few theaters for the few souls who can or want to see them that way, then onto DVD/BD and cable. And sometimes it works; I read that ALL GOOD THINGS, with Ryan Gosling (before he "broke out" last year) rang up $10 million in VOD sales, a number it would not have reached in a few big city arthouses. THE INKEEPERS, a saleable genre picture on cable if not on screens, has probably done OK on VOD, too...and I'm planning to watch KILL LIST this week on VOD, as I can't see myself getting out to see it. The "consumer choice" angle is driving this, too. I feel wistful about the collapse of theatrical playdates, but there it is.


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Mark Tinta
Posted: Feb 7 2012, 08:24 AM


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What Bob said. The release models have changed and it seems more movies are being made than ever, so much so that big-budget movies with major stars barely make it into theaters. This used to be a rarity and almost always meant "bad movie." But these days, it's becoming more typical, especially when big movies open on 3-5 screens at one multiplex.

The same-day/pre-release VOD model works well for me, since I live in Toledo and a lot of the stuff I've watched on VOD (THE INNKEEPERS, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2, RED RIDING trilogy, ANTICHRIST) would never have opened in my area. On the downside, that also means I saw THE INNKEEPERS and THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2.


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Jim Donahue
Posted: Feb 7 2012, 09:45 AM


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But why the delay?

I'd understand the concept if VOD and theatrical happened simultaneously (I think some Mark Cuban productions have done that) but why a two-month gap before theatrical? Doesn't that mean having to shell out for a second round of advertising, after the people who most wanted to see it have already seen it? Why open them theatrically at all (as the theatrical distributors of THE INNKEEPERS may now be wondering) if distributors are going to wait that long after VOD debut?
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Jonathan Hertzberg
Posted: Feb 7 2012, 10:50 AM


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QUOTE (Jim Donahue @ Feb 7 2012, 03:45 PM)
But why the delay?

I'd understand the concept if VOD and theatrical happened simultaneously (I think some Mark Cuban productions have done that) but why a two-month gap before theatrical? Doesn't that mean having to shell out for a second round of advertising, after the people who most wanted to see it have already seen it? Why open them theatrically at all (as the theatrical distributors of THE INNKEEPERS may now be wondering) if distributors are going to wait that long after VOD debut?

By doing the film "pre-theatrical," the distributor sells the film to viewers for a higher than normal fee on VOD and the film is in all likelihood listed in a more desirable or advantageous slot / category in the "on demand" menu. There is much less $$ spent on theatrical releases these days and the box office expectations are accordingly lower. As has already been stated, the film will reach millions more potential viewers through the VOD platform than theatrical.


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Jim Donahue
Posted: Feb 29 2012, 07:10 AM


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Tim and Eric address the question in this Onion AV Club interview


AVC: Can you talk a bit about the release method for the movie? It’s kind of a new thing, to be released on-demand a month before a theatrical release. A lot of movies have gone out the same day as on-demand, but I don’t know of any coming out that much before.

TH: The movie’s only going to be in theaters in 20 or 25 cities, so the majority of people in the country are just not going to be in driving distance to see the movie in a theater. So if that early group of people sees the movie on-demand and tells their friends, I guess [Magnolia Pictures] feel that that’s going to potentially create movement toward the release having more attention driven to it. We’ll see. But at the end of the day, they’re trying to make it easy for you to see this movie, to legitimately see it, to not download it illegally. As long as you have iTunes or cable or Xbox or Playstation or Amazon or any of these platforms—Olympus, the new Olympus device—you can see this movie legitimately. Magnolia gets the same split that they get at the movie theater. Financially, it seems to make sense.

EW: The only downside is that we made this movie so that you can see it in a movie theater. At first we were like, “Fuck, that sucks.” But a lot of people have good home theaters now, you know? And some people don’t go to the movies.

TH: And sometimes going to the movie theater fucking sucks. You know there’s just assholes there. It’s super-expensive to buy your popcorn and there’s people texting during the movies. I’ll go to see movies, but I also love being at home on my couch and pausing every 10 minutes to pee.
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