Who would have thought that a TV show about a high school detective that premiered in 2004 on the now defunct UPN network would go on to break so many molds? After being cancelled after just three seasons in 2007 by UPN's successor, the CW, "Veronica Mars" emerged as a film project raising funds on Kickstarter in 2013. It was the first time that a network show tried to return as a film via crowdfunding. The project broke various records, including becoming the most successful film project ever on Kickstarter, raising a record $5.7 million for the big screen version of the show, which starred Kristen Bell.
Now the film will break another record when it becomes the first time one of Hollywood's major studios distributes a movie in theaters and digitally at the same time when Warner Bros. releases it on March 14.
Of course, independent studios and theaters have been releasing films "day and date" for years. The list of high-profile indies to be released day and date is long and includes "Escape From Tomorrow," "Lovelace," "The Canyons," "A Teacher," "Adore," Drinking Buddies," "Don't Stop Believin'," "Touchy Feely," "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," "Blue Caprice," "Muscle Shoals," "Good Ol' Freda" and many other films that made the festival circuit.
The large cinema chains argue that allowing movies to become available via VOD would cut into their business, so they insist on a theatrical window of at least three months between theatrical and DVD or VOD releases. In the case of "Veronica Mars," Warner Bros. is skirting the usual theatrical window issue by renting 260 AMC Theater screens across the country and playing in 10 other independently owned theaters, The Wall Street Journal reports.
"On projects like this where we know we have a partner with the resources to promote the film and an easily targetable audience, we will rent theaters out," Nikkole Denson-Randolph, AMC's vice president of special and alternative content, told The Wall Street Journal. Of course, in this case, because of the diehard fan base that has already proven their dedication through the Kickstarter campaign, it's likely that viewers will watch the movie in the theater and at home -- which is likely why Warner Bros. and AMC are willing to sidestep the traditional theatrical window rules.
One of the biggest benefits to distributors in doing a day and date release is that they can coordinate all
of the publicity and advertising for the theatrical release to include the on-demand
release. In the case of "Veronica Mars," Warner Bros. is relying only on online and in-theater advertising.
If this model succeeds, will more studios work out ways to give audiences the ability to watch movies when and where they want?