Does the growing popularity of VOD and online film streaming diminish the importance of the theatrical run? At this weekend's Produced By conference in Burbank, it was a matter of perspective.
Harvey Weinstein said that for now, theatrical is still vital. Per Alex Ben Block at The Hollywood Reporter:
“It’s become much more of a theatrical business because the movie has to work in theaters,” says Weinstein, who appeared by satellite before a full house on the first day of the annual conference put on by the Producer’s Guild of America, held on the Disney studio lot in Burbank.
Weinstein made the comment in reference to his efforts to develop a sequel to "Rounders," which grossed a modest $23 million when it was released by Miramax in 1998. He said it went on to make an astounding $70 million, not in gross but in actual dollars returned to the distributor.
Still, he recognizes that the film will have to work better in theaters this time because of the changes in the marketplace. “It’s working without a net right now,” says Weinstein, “until VOD and the Internet situation matures. (At present) they are not working like DVD did.”
However, Weinstein's longtime acolyte, Kevin Smith, sang the praises of VOD at a session devoted to independent film innovations (full disclosure: The panel was moderated by indieWIRE editor in chief Dana Harris).
"It's a bitter pill to swallow, but I have to give it up to Ed Burns," said Smith. "He saw the potential of VOD before anyone did. He's a very smart man."
Smith said he resisted VOD because he associated it with failure. His latest film, "Red State," will receive a theatrical release this fall through his own company, SMODcast, with many areas having access to the film on VOD before it reaches their theaters. He says it will reach far more people than he might have in theatrical exhibition.
Everyone wants to see their movies on the screen, he says. But to be successful, "you have to manage your expectations."