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by Paula Bernstein
October 28, 2013 2:05 PM
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John Sloss Releases VOD Numbers for 'Escape From Tomorrow'; Urges Other Distributors to Show Us the Numbers

"Escape From Tomorrow."

Video on Demand is a fast-growing distribution sector for films, particularly indie films which often don't get a wide theatrical release. More and more distributors are moving away from typical theatrical releases and traditional windowing toward the day-and-date or Ultra VOD models. But unlike theatrical box office reporting, film distributors, cable companies and other video viewing platforms don't report viewership in a uniform and transparent way, leaving filmmakers and the industry without any benchmarks for where audiences are engaging with their content. Now producer John Sloss has released the VOD numbers for "Escape From Tomorrow," and is calling on other distributors to release their VOD numbers.

Sloss told Deadline that "Escape From Tomorrow," which was released by his Producers Distribution Agency (PDA), grossed $139,334 in theatrical revenues and $120,560 in VOD/digital grosses, adding up to a total of $258,894. The film took in $55,000 in VOD and $65,000 in broadband revenue. Sloss is the founder of Cinetic Media and a co-founder of FilmBuff. Before releasing "Escape from Tomorrow," PDA, the distribution offshoot of Cinetic Media, is best known for releasing "Exit Through the Gift Shop," which was Academy Award nominated for Best Documentary in 2010.

READ MORE: 'Escape from Tomorrow' Director Would Make a Disney Movie and Other Highlights from His Reddit AMA

"I decided to release the numbers for the same reason we created PDA and Film Buff," Sloss told Indiewire. "Transparency is a good thing. Where better than to start with ourselves? If we can't do it ourselves, how can we expect others to do it? It's not revolutionary, in my opinion."

Sloss said that he will release the VOD numbers for all future FilmBuff releases. He contacted a number of distributors before making the announcement. "I made the case to them and we'll see what they do. No one committed on the phone, but nobody shut me down either." Sloss acknowledges that he is "on both sides of things. I rely on distributors to license films that I'm selling."

To support a broader level of transparency, Cinetic Media announced today the company is introducing a new statistic in film reporting they have dubbed Multi-Screen Gross. The new metric will be posted every Monday on the website of Cinetic's sister company FilmBuff and will "be a simple number combining consumer payments at home and at theaters for day-and-date releases that can be used to compare those films to their traditional theatrical counterparts," according to a statement from the company. "Escape From Tomorrow" marks the first reported Multi-Screen Gross film.

The debut film from director Randy Moore, "Escape From Tomorrow" received a lot of press attention due to the fact that the film shot guerrilla-style in Disney World and Disneyland. Despite the buzz surrounding the film and decent reviews, it has only done so-so business at theaters.

"Considering what we spent releasing it, it's performed quite well," said Sloss. "I wouldn't say we killed it, but I would say it's done well."


  • filmbuff243 | October 29, 2013 10:39 AMReply

    Thanks @Ed -- exactly what I was thinking as well. There are probably more than a half dozen platforms carrying the film and no explanation as to what VOD vs 'Broadband' means -- why isn't he breaking down iTunes vs Google vs Amazon Instant vs Cable VOD.

    Either way, I think these numbers are inflated. Any way you slice it, I think this is a disappointment for Cinetic.

  • Ed Harken | October 29, 2013 10:12 AMReply

    I'm confused by Mr Sloss' #s. Isn't VOD delivered by broadband? How widely distributed are PDAs titles on all of these platforms (they don't seem to appear on any of the providers I use). What type of promotion did these platforms give (I did see it on iTunes - I didn't see it on cable). Is he going to continue to report #s for ESCAPE through its entire release and is this it. Is Indiewire going to continue to report the numbers?

    I know John Sloss is really awesome and this is a good article for him but not sure what I am supposed to get out of it. Does he consider this a success or is he disappointed?

  • Brian Fantana | October 28, 2013 10:00 PMReply

    First 2 words in the headline of this article is all one needs to know what the article is really all about!

  • Brooks Elms | October 28, 2013 7:06 PMReply

    Thanks so much, John Sloss! Really awesome.

    Which distributor is next?!? Those numbers will be a huge help to us all.