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'Snowpiercer' Speeds Past $5 Million Mark on VOD

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire August 11, 2014 at 2:57PM

When Radius-TWC, The Weinstein Company's boutique label, released "Snowpiercer" on-demand only two weeks after Bong Joon-ho's film hit theaters, the industry questioned the innovative release strategy. Clearly, the gamble has paid off.
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Snowpiercer

As of August 8, the dystopian thriller has racked up an impressive $5,518,584 after only four weeks on VOD and pulled in a respectable $4,280,970 in over seven weeks in theaters, Radius-TWC reports. Yes, you read that correctly -- the film is faring better on VOD than it is in theaters (it's now in 71 theaters, down from 100).

READ MORE: As "Snowpiercer" Hits VOD, The Industry's Divided on Distribution's Future

"We had pretty good size expectations as far as what the film could do on VOD once we got into that window," Jason Janego, Radius-TWC co-president, recently told Indiewire. "We weren't entirely sure what would happen on the theatrical side initially, but because the film is such a brilliant unique film, we had decent hopes that if it caught a little bit of fire, that word would spread quickly and that people would line up to see it and it has actually happened that way...It's exceeded expectations."

"Snowpiercer"

Radius-TWC's highest grossing VOD release is still "Bachelorette," which grossed $8.2 million on various digital platforms, according to Janego. Though unlike "Snowpiercer," "Bachelorette" premiered on VOD before hitting theaters.
 
Still, at the rate it's chugging along, it's possible that "Snowpiercer" could reach "Bachelorette's" numbers.

"This is a business where we're all constantly watching what everyone else is doing." - Jason Janego

But regardless of the success of the multi-platform release strategy for "Snowpiercer," Janego said the company wouldn't necessarily plan a similar release for all titles. "It's always on a case-by-case basis," he said. "This is not a one size fits all platform. Everything is dependent upon the film itself. We hadn't done this particular strategy with any film before and yes, we'd love to try it again, but we're not just going to do it for the sake of doing it. It's got to be the right film."

READ MORE: Is VOD The Future of Indie Film? Yes and No.

Radius-TWC co-president Tom Quinn previously told Indiewire this unorthodox release strategy works well for certain movies that benefit from the theatrical setting but also have a high enough demand to merit a wider availability. He gave A24's "Spring Breakers" as an example of a film that would have benefited from a multi-platform release.

It's likely other indies will follow Radius-TWC lead and experiment with the unconventional release strategy -- although booking theaters for day-and-day or ultra-VOD releases continues to be a challenge (Most of the big theater chains insist that distributors wait 90 days before releasing films on VOD).

"This is a business where we're all constantly watching what everyone else is doing," said Janego. "When someone does something that is perceived to be successful, it's only natural for other people to want to try to replicate that. So I would imagine that somebody will try. That said, it's not going to affect what we do."

This article is related to: RADiUS-TWC, Snowpiercer, VOD, Filmmaker Toolkit: Distribution, Features