March 13, 2012

Distributing an Indie? Gravitas Ventures Removes the Shroud of Secrecy on VOD Numbers

If you've ever thought about, or have been in the process of distributing an independent film, you know that it's an absolute nightmare, and whether it's theaters or distributors, almost no one wants to give you a straight answer about actual numbers and how well comparable films might have performed. It takes a lot for a distributor to finally give up numbers, but yesterday at a SXSW panel, Gravitas Ventures did just that. They delivered with a case study, and some other films and their distribution numbers.

From IndieWire, here is the document and some highlights below:

[scribd id=85064863 key=key-34e8gzz9t8iugqjcr4e mode=list]


  • It took more than a dozen tries to develop the marketing design for "AMERICAN"
  • Variance's theatrical advertising budget for "AMERICAN" was very limited: $500.
  • The producers broke even after the theatrical release, which earned $90,000.
  • Estimated VOD gross (over three years): $600,000
  • Gravitas has earned more than $1.25 million on a VOD feature, '5 Star Day,' thanks to the numbered title and the public's love of horoscopes
  • VOD sales on an award-winning doc were less than $100,000: The film's title began with a letter at the end of the alphabet.


The most fascinating part of this document to me is the importance of placing in the VOD lineup. While many artists cling to certain principles about keeping their integrity, changing your title to have a number or to start at the beginning of the alphabet could truly impact your overall sales. This isn't just magic either - it's based on the idea that many individuals when searching for a film will only look through the first few letters of the alphabet at most.

If you've ever looked into distribution, it's hard to get comparisons for similar films. Often we have to look at Hollywood films, with much higher P&A budgets, and in the end that isn't a very productive practice if you've got a truly independent film. As Ted Hope has said before in his blog, it's important for transparency throughout the independent film world because we've got a much longer road ahead and none of us have the budgets to simply throw money at the problem.

[via IndieWire]

Your Comment


lol regarding the titles. How soon before we start seeing indie films with titles like "101 Ways to Die", "Aaamazing Coincidence", and "*** For The Future"? Think of your local yellow pages listings. :-)

March 13, 2012 at 2:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Hahaha!! It might just become ridiculous... "0001 was his name", "# stands for number"...

March 14, 2012 at 11:54AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The whole "placement" thing to me seems utterly ridiculous and something that Record Labels used to do when people actually bought music in stores. Ever think Linkin Park used the name because it was close to Limp Bizkit?

This is quite an interesting post. The film I'ma bout to run a Kickstarter on is called "Four of a Kind" - I wonder if I should leave it as "4 of a Kind"

March 13, 2012 at 2:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Interesting. Perhaps "spotlight" or "new arrivals" need to include more Indies. A balance needs to be put in place. Then again I can't blame them because they have to go with what's more popular.

I believe we'll fix this problem.

March 13, 2012 at 4:56PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I have a similar situation on the Promotion and Distribution of my own Indie film "Diabla" (shameful plug). But find it less difficult with a VOD on Instant Video Site. I have submitted to Filmmakers Magazine VOD Calender, hopefully they will publish the films release on VOD April 1(another shameful plug) which will certainly help drive new fans to the site. But time will tell on how many will jump on the Band wagon. "It's hard being a film pimp in the hood."

March 20, 2012 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Roseanne Liang released a film in 2005 entitled "Banana in a Nutshell". Even after seven years of getting limited recognition for her documentary, Roseanne was still able to make two more films after her debut. The determination turned her to Kinonation, a start-up that specializes in cloud VOD distribution, in Santa Monica that allowed her to distribute "Banana in a Nutshell" to Hulu, Amazon, and SnagFilms. After years of minimal recognition, Roseanne was able to accumulate tens of thousands of views without any marketing or advertising firms to back her up. Her film currently holds a 7.4 rating on IMDb. Roseanne was able to make a feature film based on her documentary called “My Wedding and Other Secrets”. Roseanne used Kinonation as a stepping stone to boost her creative confidence, and was able to reach an audience that she never thought would set eyes on her film.
Amazon review: “What an awesome and refreshing movie. Strikingly honest and beautifully done. I'm glad I got to see the epilogue to see how things turned out "happily ever after." They make such a wonderful couple and deserve all the happiness in the world! Please make more wonderful movies, Roseanne!”

March 20, 2014 at 6:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM