Is the VOD Release of 'Snowpiercer' Clever Marketing, or Just a Roll of the Dice?
The world of film distribution is constantly changing. While we've seen that the Netflix/Hulu/VOD model is becoming more competitive with the standard theatre date release, we're not living in the age of theatre model dismissal just yet. However, studios are beginning to experiment with dual releases, and Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, having now earned $3.8 million via VOD, is an incredible example of such a disruptive innovation in releasing films. These videos give a great recap of the Snowpiercer release situation, as well as some of the analysis on why this particular release is unique:
First, here's a couple of videos from Bloomberg TV's Market Makers anchor Jon Erlichman on the situation:
Snowpiercer opened in just eight cities June 27th, competing directly with the perpetual box office hit Angry Smashing Robot Spectacle 4 (or if you're into the whole brevity thing, Transformers.) But RADiUS, the US art house distribution arm of The Weinstein Company, then opted for a wider release based on positive reviews and buzz, and the film earned has $4.1 million domestic since that move. As mentioned in the video above, there was some controversy surrounding the release (including The Weinstein Company reportedly wanting to cut down/re-edit the film), but now that the dust has settled, the film has profited a nice $8 million in domestic and VOD earnings. One could say that this dual release has proven to be an elegant marketing tactic by TWC -- after all, Snowpiercer is shaping up to be a huge VOD success story.
However, Noel Murray of The Dissolve questions this:
So Snowpiercer’s strong returns are potentially great news for moviegoers. But is this great news for the Weinstein Company? TWC has taken a lot of knocks over the past year (including from The Dissolve) regarding the reports that it wanted to cut Bong Joon-ho’s film, followed by the perception that the company was dumping the uncut version by giving it such a limited opening. As I wrote last week in conjunction with the Weinsteins’ decision to release One Chance on Yahoo Screen, I’m still not sure how much of what’s happened with Snowpiercer is due to a brilliant marketing strategy and how much is due to the movie being so good that people were willing to do whatever they must to see it.
Murray goes on to mention Bilge Ebiri's article in Businessweek in which analysts implied that The Weinstein Company has been "trying to turn a stumble into a somersault".
As Erlichman mentions above in the second Market Makers clip, a film going "straight to video" could be seen as a "stinker". For filmmakers looking to distribute, I think the elephant in the room is simply this -- are we now going to see more dual releases in lieu of the standard theatrical release, and does this dual release of Snowpiercer, a big-budget sci-fi film, mark the beginning of that shift? And will the "straight to video" stigma thus vanish?
What do you think about the situation? Is this a brilliant marketing strategy, or simply the Weinsteins turning "a stumble into a somersault"? And how do you think Snowpiercer's dual release strategy will affect how film's are released in the future?
- Weinstein's Snowpiercer: Indie Savior or Casualty? -- Bloomberg
- Can a Korean Sci-Fi Movie About a Train Reinvent Hollywood's Distribution Model? -- Bloomberg Businessweek
[Via The Dissolve]