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‘Arbitrage’ Marks New Trend of Releasing Pay-Per-View Earnings

'Arbitrage' Marks New Trend of Releasing Pay-Per-View Earnings

Richard Gere’s Bernie Madoff-esque thriller “Arbitrage” reportedly now holds the record for combined sales for a movie released concurrently in theaters and VOD, grossing more than $7.3 million on the big screen and about $11 million on small screens. It also marks a slowly increasing trend of companies (in this case Roadside Attractions and Lions Gate Entertainment) starting to reveal heretofore hidden pay-per-view sales figures, as VOD becomes more relevant to independent film profit and distribution.

According to Roadside, “Arbitrage” has surpassed the previous record holder of concurrent theatrical-VOD release, its own “Margin Call,” which made about $6 million in VOD, and $5.4 million in theaters. (IFC, Magnolia and other VOD distributors only share numbers with their filmmaker partners.)

Interestingly, reports the LAT, a survey of theater owners playing “Arbitrage” on their screens (many of which were four-walled by Roadside) shows that 90% didn’t know the film was also available via VOD. A mistake? Nope, a strategy: Roadside president Howard Cohen tells the LAT’s John Horn: “This is a model we have been at the front of — to make both theatrical and VOD work at the same time.”

Distribution companies get a substantially better cut of VOD earnings than theatrical earnings: 70%, as opposed to the 50-50 split between distributors and theaters. And if a film does well in its VOD run, as “Arbitrage” has, it makes sense not to keep the numbers close to the vest. Indeed, touting VOD numbers can be a calling card at film festivals and markets for companies such as Lions Gate, when making new acquisitions.

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Keith Warn

Thanks Anne for letting Indie Producers like me realize that VOD income can now be as much as theatrical income for indie movies like "Kill Her… Not Me." This information can help in getting financing by not limiting return on investment to theatrical, DVD/Blu-Ray, and TV sales only.

Keith Warn Ibex Productions


Arbitrage may have done better than Margin Call. Could it be because it opened in more theaters.. 197 compared to MC at 56. Our theater showed both movies. Margin Call did fantastic. Customers loved it. As for Arbitrage the most common comment was it was just OK. MC did well with VOD since the movie was released on so few screens, which is a shame.

Anne Thompson

Yes, Roadside four-walled many of the screens (and I added that detail), as they did with "Margin Call," and probably paid more this go-round. This story is pointing out the change in reporting, not so much digging into the mechanics.


wasn't ARBITRAGE four-walled at every theater it was in, though? I believe it was, and that means 2 things. a) that Roadside/Lgate paid an enormous sum to 4-wall in hundreds of theaters, so this "model" that Mr Cohen is touting is for VERY few indie films unless they have a mini-studio backing those substantial, per-theater costs and b) this explains why the "90% of theater owners didn't know the film was on VOD". The owners don't care if the movie is on VOD b/c they have the hefty 4-wall fees in hand and aren't counting on box office gross.

These sort of key details shouldn't be left out of an article that is meant to inform…

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