Will Sony’s VOD Release of The Interview Change Hollywood?


The Interview
With Sony’s recent video-on-demand and cinematic debut of “The Interview,” the entire industry could be permanently reshaped, with other studios giving this business model a second look. In just four days, the movie earned $15 million and became the company’s highest-grossing online release ever.

Previously, other attempts for day-and-date simultaneous VOD and theatrical release have been mocked, shutdown entirely, or only involved low budget independent films. The high profile of “The Interview,” combined with A-list stars like Seth Rogen and James Franco, was certainly a factor here.

In mid-2014, Warner Bros. was the first major studio to participate in this multiplatform distribution format, with “Veronica Mars” – a film that achieved funding via Kickstarter.

However, in the past, things were a bit different. In 2011, Universal Pictures wanted to release the comedy “Tower Heist” on VOD three weeks after being in theaters. Cinemas refused to allow this to happen, expressing concerns about sales.

Later that year, Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions made a day-and-date gamble though. Drama “Margin Call” attracted a lot of attention that December for making $4 million on VOD and streaming while also in theaters.

In a bit of foresight, Roadside co-president Howard Cohen said at the time that “I think the possibility has always been lurking out there … the question has been picking a movie with potential to do it.”

It seems like “The Interview” was a decent choice. As experts and studio heads continue to examine its performance, it’s certainly possible that day-and-date multiplatform release will become more of a commonality in regards to major motion pictures.

During a Magnolia Pictures release experiment with the 2006 film “Bubble,” director Steven Soderbergh told Washington Post journalist Ann Hornday the following:

“I really don’t care how people see my movies, as long as they see them … I’m just not interested in controlling how somebody experiences one of my films.”

Provided that other directors feel similarly, it seems likely that this model is ripe for expansion.

Worth noting, 2014 box office revenues were down five percent over the previous year, the largest decline in nearly a decade.

Perhaps a shakeup like increasing the frequency of day-and-date VOD releases is exactly what Hollywood needs, and this current experiment with “The Interview” could prove to be the groundbreaking event that makes this a reality.

Author: Brian Cameron

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