VOD Overdose: News on Tribeca Film Festival, VOD Sales Numbers from Gravitas Ventures, and More!

VOD Overdose: News on Tribeca Film Festival, VOD Sales Numbers from Gravitas Ventures, and More!
By Chris McKittrick

Tribeca Film FEstival 2012 610x311 VOD Overdose: News on Tribeca Film Festival, VOD Sales Numbers from Gravitas Ventures, and More!

VOD Overdose is Movie Buzzers’ coverage of video-on-demand developments and upcoming films premiering on video-on-demand.  With an increasing number of studios embracing VOD as a way to premiere and distribute films, this column covers movies that might be worth a look even though they aren’t playing at your local multiplex.

Tribeca Film to Premiere Four Festival Features on VOD

In a great example of striking while the iron is hot, Tribeca Film will premiere four films on VOD during the Tribeca Film Festival, so if you can’t get a ticket (or press passes like Alex, Melissa, and myself) you can get a taste of what the festival has to offer.  The films are The Giant Mechanical Man (starring Jenna Fischer, Topher Grace, and Malin Akerman), Death of a Superhero (starring Andy Serkis), Sleepless Night, and the documentary Booker’s Place: A Mississippi StoryInformation on each film is available here, along with information on other Tribeca Films currently available on VOD.

Gravitas Ventures Releases VOD Sales Numbers and Strategies

Ever since VOD became a viable exhibition platform, studios have been skeptical whether or not it is a profitable market.  Studios have been increasingly warming to VOD as a distribution model because there isn’t any Box Office Mojo for VOD sales.  But as part of its panel at SXSW, Gravitas Ventures, which distributes VOD movies (and has recently signed a distribution deal with Variance Films to get some of those releases into limited theaters), has released their sales figures, which can be browsed at IndieWire.  Some of the interesting revelations include that films with titles that begin with numbers or an early letter in the alphabet seem to sell more, since customers browsing though alphabetical VOD menus.  It also includes an extensive explanation on how the marketing for American: The Bill Hicks Story was created, which is pretty fascinating to anyone interested in film marketing.  Generally it seems like Gravitas’ successful releases have grossed between $200,000 and $350,000 on VOD, with some exceptions (5 Star Day grossed $1.25 million).  Less successful releases can be in the low five figures.  We might be a long way from indie movies on VOD grossing the $20 million+ that Bridesmaids has done on VOD, but for a low-budget movie Gravitas’ numbers show a significant profit can be made on VOD sales alone.

Vyer Films Adjusts Rental Period

I got an e-mail from Vyer Films — which offers online rentals of indie foreign films — announcing a new rental time period that works better than it’s $10, 7-day rental period.  While rentals are still $10, you now have the film for as long as it takes to watch it.  So if you rent something, watch the first fifteen minutes but go into a coma for a month, you can return to the movie without any additional cost.  Personally I don’t rent films on demand unless I know I’m going to watch the whole thing, but I’m sure this will make somebody happy.

VOD News

This week’s oddest news is perhaps about Bel Ami, a film that shot way back in February 2010 starring Twilight star Robert Pattinson as a serial seducer in late 1800s Paris. The film also stars Christina Ricci, Kristin Scott Thomas and Uma Thurman, so it isn’t like it doesn’t lack star power.  Though the film seems like an easy sell to the rabid Twilight crowd, the movie has only been released theatrically in the UK so far.  However, Magnolia has set a June 8th theatrical release in the U.S., but like last year’s Melancholia intends to put the film out a few weeks early on VOD.  Though the film received very poor reviews, that hasn’t stopped Twilight fans from seeing movies before.

With this year’s SXSW Festival in the books (and you can check out Graham’s coverage here and here!), a few films from the festival have already been picked up for VOD distribution.  They are The Tall Man (starring Jessica Biel) from Image Entertainment (though Graham recommends that you avoid it altogether) and Girls Against Boys, a revenge thriller about two female bartenders who can’t take anymore from men, which will be released by Anchor Bay.

Hot on the heels of Bridesmaids, the best-selling VOD of all time, comes That’s What She Said, a “girls behaving badly in New York City” comedy starring Anne Heche.  It will have a day-and-date VOD and theatrical release from Phase 4.  The movie was a Sundance favorite, but it is sort of curious that it hasn’t been grabbed until now.

In perhaps the funniest news, the “mockbuster” — that is, low-budget films released around the time of a blockbuster — American Battleship will be released on VOD and DVD May 15, three days before Universal’s Battleship hits theaters.  American Battleship stars Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed!) and Mario Van Peebles as crew members of a battleship that has to save the world.  The movie is put out by Asylum Home Entertainment, which put out a Thor movie around the time that the Marvel superhero’s film was released.

Alex posted the latest trailer for Mel Gibson’s Get the Gringo, his VOD release that is set for a May 1 release.

Finally, there’s a great article from Variety detailing how VOD is increasingly becoming an effective way for studios to market films to niche audiences, something I’ve been preaching since I began this column.  It discusses the different strategies distributors use (day-and-date, a VOD release preceding a theatrical release, targeted markets, etc.) to maximize the performance of a film.  Worth a read!

Now on VOD… And We Reviewed It!

Here’s a sampling of recent VOD movies that Movie Buzzers has viewed and reviewed.  Check your cable provider or the below online retailers:

ATM (Review 2/10), available on iTunes and Amazon.

A Lonely Place to Die (Review: 8/10), available on iTunes and Amazon.

Loosies (Reviews: 4/10, 5/10), available on iTunes and Amazon.

Roadie (Review: 4/10), available on Amazon.

Conception (Review: 8/10), available on iTunes, Amazon, and VuduCheck out my interview with writer/director Josh Stolberg here!

Detachment (Review: 8/10), available on iTunes and Amazon.

 Upcoming VOD Releases
(For films premiering on VOD platforms, or hitting VOD after limited theatrical runs.) 

[D2V] denotes movie that is also being released direct to DVD and/or Blu-ray on the same day.

March 30:
The Corridor
IFC has really been cornering the market on VOD horror films.  This movie — which is about the horrors of getting older combined with the horrors of, well, getting stabbed in the woods — has been all over the festival circuit and been getting positive buzz.  The trailer definitely has a Stephen King vibe, which is good enough for me!  It gets a small theatrical release the same day, too.

April 3:
A Little Bit of Heaven
A Kate Hudson rom-com going to VOD a month earlier than theaters?  I don’t get that strategy.  You can see it on VOD or alternately in theaters on May 4.  I miss Hudson as Penny Lane.

April 6:
God Bless America
Alex has a full review of Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest black comedy coming soon, but until that’s posted you can check out Graham’s glowing mini-review in his SXSW coverage!

April 20:
This documentary on the legendary reggae musician Bob Marley will have a day-and-date VOD release alongside a small theatrical run.  A reggae movie coming out on 4/20?  Well, Magnolia knows its target audience…

Have news about an upcoming VOD movie?  Want to have Movie Buzzers check out your upcoming VOD release?  Contact me here!