For Stream, Eric Kohn checks in with Purple Violets producer Aaron Lubin to get a sense of how he feels about the iTunes premiere of his (Edward Burns directed) film, almost one year later. At the time, the release made a lot of headlines as an interesting “experiment,” but it means so much more now, especially as more films go the digital-premiere route. From their conversation:
Stream: Do you think it made more money than it would have if it premiered in theaters?
Lubin: It did make more money for us than it would have had in theaters. It probably made as much income as a decent art house release. If you do the math, I would say that we made more money than the average art house release from a studio. More people saw it than they would have in theaters if Fox Searchlight or Focus Features had released it.
Stream: Are you recommending this method to other filmmakers as a viable form of distribution?
Lubin: Yes. Mark Gill laid out everything we’ve been seeing for awhile [in a recent speech]. The marketplace is very limited and dwindling. It’s extremely challenging for these smaller movies to get any release, much less a successful one. The only film of the last four months branded a success is The Visitor, and that’s grossed eight million dollars. That means filmmakers need to find other ways to get their films to audiences and not think of theatrical as the only option. You’re competing with cable television, videogames, and the internet. Those forms of competition didn’t exist twenty years ago, when independent film was a much more viable alternative. It’s only going to become a more familiar way for people to consume movies.