'Margin Call' VOD experiment a resounding success

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 19-12-2011

Margin Call, an independent film about Wall Street investment bankers dealing with the 2008 financial meltdown, debuted in theatres and on video on demand (VOD) the same day.
According to Hollywood Bible Variety, the film has racked up well over $4 million and taken a respectable $5.1 million at the box office--Lionsgate/Roadside paid just $1 million for distribution rights at the Sundance Film Festival.
The success has been a big surprise for the dual-pronged distribution plan, which many thought would suffer from revenue cannibalisation issues because the film, starring Kevin Spacey, is more commercial than most same-day-as-theatres VOD releases. IFC and Magnolia have been launching movies on-demand and at theatres for some time, but those films don't typically get picked up outside of art houses and are considered to have limited commercial appeal. Thus, the VOD exposure is a boon rather than a competitor in terms of outlets.
"I think the possibility has always been lurking out there [for success]," Roadside Attractions exec Howard Cohen told Variety. "The question has been picking a movie with potential to do it."
There is some concern about whether such a scheme would be successful with films that have mass-market appeal-- a category that Margin Call does not fit into. The latest attempt to shorten the window for VOD release for a bigger film came with Tower Heist, but the Universal pulled the plug on the plan to release it on-demand a mere three weeks after wide release after theatre chains threatened a boycott of the film entirely.