Cast is king. Or queen, as it were.
“Bachelorette,” a low-budget R-rated comedy that stars Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan, managed to climb atop the iTunes Top Movies chart barely 24 hours after first becoming available on the service Thursday at midnight. What’s notable is that other than a handful of festival showings, including its premiere at Sundance in January, “Bachelorette” has yet to appear on the big screen. It doesn’t open in theaters until September 7.
The development makes for an auspicious start for RADiUS-TWC, the Weinstein Co. multi-platform specialty distribution label launched a year ago and run by co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego. The acquisition title, RADiUS’ first release, now sits above “21 Jump Street,” “Battleship” and “The Dictator” in the iTunes rankings, with the next-closest indie title, “Friends With Kids,” at #6. “Bachelorette” already has 215 ratings that add up to 3.5 stars.
Quinn and Janego grabbed North American rights to Leslye Headland’s edgy comedy two weeks after Sundance for a package north of $2 million. These VOD stats bode well for a healthy return on investment, though the question mark with pre-theatrical availability remains to what extent audiences also will seek the film out in theaters. Quinn did very well with the model at Magnolia, and many observers made hay about the dual success of last year’s “Margin Call,” which Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions released to positive revenue both in theaters and on VOD last October.
But that financial thriller had going for it exactly what “Bachelorette” does: a high-profile ensemble cast (Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto). It sounds obvious, but that may be the key to an emerging pattern of indie or low-budget films that play well across multiple channels without the benefit of a major marketing push or theatrical word-of-mouth. From the beginning, Quinn and Janego have made clear that RADiUS is not merely a VOD label but a flexible division that can and will tailor every release differently.
“From day one, our goal has always been to bring content to viewers when, where and how they want to see it,” said Quinn and Janego. “Leslye has done a sensational job with ‘Bachelorette’ in delivering a first-rate crowd pleaser with a top notch cast that clearly resonates with audiences.”
RADiUS-TWC has Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives,” the crime thriller “Pusher” and the action film “Solomon Kane” forthcoming — the latter in the same pre-theatrical VOD mold as “Bachelorette.” It’ll be interesting to see how they perform in the wake of “Bachelorette’s” surprising start.