While the recent news that Nielsen will report viewership numbers for several digital platforms suggests a step toward further transparency in the digital marketplace, distributor RADiUS-TWC has been heading that direction for a while. The company has published VOD numbers for limited release titles such as “Man of Tai Chi” and “Snowpiercer” to illustrate the viability of its approach. In an exclusive to Indiewire, RADiUS-TWC is reporting its digital grosses for the documentary “Fed Up,” director Stephanie Soechtig’s expose on the food industry executive produced and narrated by Katie Couric.
According to RADiUS, “Fed Up” has a grossed a total of $1,328,330 on VOD, with $1,095,505 of that gross coming from digital platforms iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, Playstation, VUDU and Google Play. Based on comparative rankings and the duration of those rankings among other titles on iTunes and Amazon, this makes it the top-grossing title of the year on both platforms. The film is also #9 on iTunes’ all-time top-grossing documentaries. Released theatrically after Mother’s Day, it has grossed over $1.5 million in theaters to date. The company purchased the movie at the Sundance Film Festival for $1.75 million, outbidding competing distributors such as Netflix.
According to RADiUS co-president Tom Quinn, the film’s popularity in the digital marketplace is comparable to its success with far bigger digital releases, such as “Snowpiercer” and “Bachelorette.” While those films technically had higher cumulative grosses, Quinn said that based on units, “Fed Up” was more successful on both iTunes and Amazon. “It had a more robust release than any of them,” Quinn said. “It’s the number one digital launch of any film we’ve done. For a documentary, that’s saying a lot.”
In “Fed Up,” Soechtig follows several families coping with obesity and misinformation campaigns by big food companies. The film was released alongside a promotional campaign called “The Fed Up Challenge,” in which over 60,000 people signed up to give up sugar for 10 days. “It is, in my mind, the most impactful social issue doc of the year,” Quinn said. “It has a very clear message about changing the way you eat to prolong your life.”
While “Fed Up” cracked the all-time top 10 on iTunes in the last two weeks, the timing of RADiUS’ announcement happens to coincide with a major deadline in awards season, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s awards branch prepares to release a shortlist in the Oscar race for best documentary this Thursday. Traditionally, conventional activist films have struggled to find support from documentary branch members. (Last year, the RADiUS title “Inequality for All,” which focused on America’s income gap, failed to make the cut.)
However, Quinn said the movie had another reason to stay in the conversation this fall. “I want people to take notice of what they’re eating before the holiday ‘eating’ season begins,” he said. “Before you take another bite, watch ‘Fed Up.'”
He added that the film’s message had impacted the distributor as well. “Everybody at RADiUS has given up processed sugar,” he said. “I personally lost 20 pounds and feel better than I ever have.”