When RADiUS-TWC released “Snowpiercer” in eight cities two weeks ago, its theatrical prospects were dicey: The company opened the post-apocalyptic sci-fi action-drama the same weekend as the latest “Transformers” sequel. But the gamble paid off, with critical support and word of mouth for Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s international production helping it reach just over $162,000 in its opening weekend.
The movie faced an even greater challenge when it expanded to 250 theaters nationwide over the July 4th weekend. It still delivered, garnering a per-screen average of $3,993 for a cumulative gross of $1,501,844. In other words, people are seeing this thing.
However, despite this success, “Snowpiercer” distributor Radius has confirmed plans to release the movie on VOD platforms this Friday. While specialty distributors often open titles day-and-date (meaning they hit theaters and VOD platforms on the same day), if the movie opens in theaters first, it’s usually not released on VOD until several weeks or months down the road.
“Everything is either a limited or a wide theatrical release with zero room for anything innovative or nuanced,” Radius co-president Tom Quinn said in a statement . “So, we at RADiUS, decided early on, to do something completely different with this release… we’re embracing both the benefits of a platform theatrical, but also the merits of going SUPER WIDE by making it available on more ‘screens’ then any movie this summer.”
Quinn has a history with the VOD marketplace. Prior to launching RADiUS at The Weinstein Company with entertainment lawyer Jason Janego, the executive worked on the pioneering day-and-date release of Steven Soderbergh’s “Bubble” in 2005. At RADiUS, Quinn has joined only a handful of distributors to publicly share VOD data. Last month, when the company hosted an outdoor screening of “Snowpiercer” in Burnet, TX — where the audience rode a train to the event with the filmmaker — Quinn sat down with Indiewire to discuss his current perspective on VOD and why the industry needs to work together to improve it. For more, check out our video discussion with Quinn from last year’s Indiewire Influencers project here.
In theory, VOD is great because it allows you to watch new indies no matter where you are in the country. But are people really taking advantage of it?