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10 VOD Film Success Stories and Why We Don't Understand More About the VOD Market

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | March 17, 2014 | Comments ()


AP_veronica_mars_jef_140314_16x9_992.jpg

Veronica Mars opened this weekend at number 10 at the box office with an impressive $2 million on only 291 theaters. It’s not enough yet for the film to turn a profit and spawn a sequel, but the box-office numbers are only part of the story. Chances are, the film performed nearly as well or even better on VOD, where it was released on the same day.

Unfortunately, we don’t know how well the movie did on VOD. In fact, we may never know. Why? Because VOD numbers are not made available to the public. Beyond a simple list of the ten best performing VOD titles each week (which is almost always comprised of only titles that were released to theaters weeks or months ago), Rentrak does not provide VOD figures, and they are very hard to come by.

We know that more and more indie titles are getting day and date releases (i.e., being released into theaters and on VOD on the same day, or on VOD a month ahead of their theatrical distribution), so we can assume that multiplatform releases have been successful, but we don’t really know how successful. Indiewire, actually, wrote a nice piece explaining why studios don’t release these numbers, if you’re curious, but it basically comes down to this: The studios don’t have to publish the numbers, so they don’t.

However, if you’re willing to spend an hour on Google, you can eventually track down not exact numbers in most cases, but a few success stories in the VOD market. In my research, I managed to find 10 titles that we know performed well on VOD.

All Good Things — It made only $500,000 in theaters, but the Ryan Gosling/Kirsten Dunst film made a whopping $6 million in VOD. (Source)

ArbitrageArbitrage, starring Richard Gere, apparently holds the record for the most VOD sales and rentals, racking up $12 million. Interestingly, it was directed by Nicholas Jarecki, while his brother, Eugene Jarecki, directed the above All Good Things.

Margin Call — The Kevin Spacey/Zachary Quinto movie that looks at an investment bank over a 24-hour period racked up $5.3 million at the box office, but before that, $5 million on VOD.

The Bachelorette — The movie, starring Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan and described as Bridesmaids crossed with The Hangover (but isn’t as good as either) had a $500,000 opening weekend on VOD on its way to more than $5 million in VOD revenue, in addition to another half million dollars in theaters. (Source)

Melancholia — The Lars von Trier film reportedly made $2 million in VOD, compared to the $3 million it made in theaters. (Source)

Drinking Buddies — The film starring Anna Kendrick, Olivia Wilde, and Jake Johnson reportedly made its entire budget back on VOD and was one of Magnolia’s top three VOD performers of 2013.

Only God Forgives — The Ryan Gosling film, which reunited him with his Drive director, Nicolas Winding Refn, only made $1 million in theaters, but added another $2.4 million in VOD.

Lovelace — The Amanda Seyfried film about Deep Throat’s Linda Lovelace was the first movie in 2013 to break the top 10 in VOD on the same weekend it was released in theaters.

The Canyons — The low-budget Lindsay Lohan movie was said to have performed “extremely well” on VOD, and was in fact IFC’s top performing title in 2013.

Black Death — I’ve never even heard of this medieval Sean Bean film, but despite making only $22,000 in theaters, it amassed over $4 million on VOD. (Source)




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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • cox

    when will the basic understanding of "hey, people are willing to pay for content they like" will sip through? i just don't get it. i backed the veronica mars movie, even though i didnt have 10 bucks to spare, and even though i live in a country where i had no chance of receiving any of the awards. then i spent a good hour on friday trying to cheat my way to amazon, so i could pay LEGALLY for the movie, FOR THE SECOND TIME. amazon just didnt want my money. and i really tried, before giving up and downloading it illegally for less than a minute. seriously, some people are just bad at business.

    make a content people want give money to, not just pay for (i think there is a difference in emotional investment there) and start using, and counting, the platforms people actually use = make billions.

  • Ben

    They wonder why countries outside of the US see such huge rates of piracy then make it impossible for us to get shit legally. It's fucking absurd.

    I would glady fucking pay for a service like netflix, or something to get tv shows to watch when they come out without having to wait months. But Australia isn't important enough for that so fuck it, pirate bay here I come.

  • general rhubarb

    Sing it Ben!

  • Nathan Convey

    I backed the movie to and when I got my download link, Flixter wouldn't work at all for me. Downloaded, but wouldn't play, wouldn't even stream, so I had to download it illegally as well.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I heard there were difficulties with viewing the movie, but just out of curiosity, how long did you wait and what IT support did you try to get before you "had" to illegally download it?

  • Ben

    How is it illegal to download something that he's already paid for and has the legal right to own?

  • Nathan Convey

    Given that I had a few friends over specifically to watch the film (who also paid for the film) and work the next morning, I didn't have time to wait for customer support to get back to me (they did eventually 2hrs later and I opted for Amazon so that it would be available on my smart tv).
    If i'd had multiple options from the start, I would have went with Amazon and had no problems.

  • Ozioma

    Let's not forget that a lot of businesses that have online stores operate on the assumption that the only people with disposable income on the Internet live in America, Canada and some parts of Europe.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't think it's a question of them assuming or forgetting. I thinking it's probably an a question of effort vs reward to make things accessible in other areas. It does involve both technical and legal work to get it out there, and money to keep it accessible.

  • Berry

    The English speaking parts, probably. The rest of us are shit out of luck.

  • cox

    oh, i dont forget. but if they would track this shit, they would learn pretty quickly they are dead wrong. they dont even care enough to check!

    also, as the amount of disposable income in north america has started shrinking lately, the amount of americans living outside of north america is increasing, and fast. you should see whats going on in Seoul - huge posh ghettos, full of gourmet burrittos. if you cant do it for me, evil american corporations, do it for your own diaspora!

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Black Death was (and maybe still is) on 'Nuckflix. It's worth the watch.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Hee hee, 'Nuckflix. I love it.

  • cruzzercruz

    Since most VOD releases that release simultaneously in theaters are indie dramas/comedies, I rather watch them at home than in a theater. Ease of use and price make VOD my preferred method for viewing anything that isn't meant to be big and loud. Plus, iTunes rentals range from what, $6-10? I'll gladly pay that to sit on the couch with 3+ people versus spending $10 a head minimum at the movies.

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