#ThinkpieceThursday – THE OTHER WOMAN and Video on Demand

otherwoman_MAINThe means of distribution are changing and will continue to change.  I believe we will soon see the rise of films made for “straight to streaming.”  Straight-to-video always had a stigma attached which I don’t think will be the case of movies that go straight to Netflix or Video on Demand.

Most movies don’t require a big screen– small character dramas and films without explosions, elaborate action sequences or lots of effects.  Many, if not most, “home theaters” have surround sound as good or better than older theaters. The view ratio of a large flat screen TV is about the same as the reduced screens in most multi-plexes.  By view ratio, I mean that a person’s field of vision is only as wide as most large flat screen TV’s.  It’s what they can view without having to turn their heads.

True, you miss the social experience of watching a movie in a crowd but for parents of young kids a movie date can cost upwards of $100 after you factor in the babysitter, parking, ticket prices and concession treats.  If the movie isn’t amazing why bother with the hassle of traffic and the cost involved.  Most parents I know would rather watch at home with a glass of wine after the kids are in bed.

In the excerpted article below, Eric Kohn gives an interesting take on VOD and the fates of Natalie Portman’s “triple-assault” releases BLACK SWAN, NO STRINGS ATTACHED and THE OTHER WOMAN:

A few years into the proliferation of video-on-demand distribution, the strengths and weaknesses of the format are apparent. VOD excels at creating instant, heretofore unavailable audiences for odd little features that would otherwise dwindle in obscurity.  For example, Michael Tully’s eccentric brotherly drama “Septien,” which became available in households around the country concurrent with its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last month (alongside four other movies released by IFC Films). A single passing notice for “Septien” in the New York Times may have led dozens of audiences to switch it on and discover a distinctly weird experience they may never find at a local theater. This process of discovery allows all kinds of unconventional cinema to catapult its way to the attention of larger audiences.

VOD also enables the popularity of lackluster product driven solely by its intrinsic commercial appeal, a phenomenon epitomized by “The Other Woman.” Prior to its theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles, the movie has already become a sizable on-demand blockbuster, landing upwards of $1 million in ticket sales from home rentals, according to a report by Mark Olsen in the Los Angeles Times. Shot nearly two years ago (it premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival under its original title, “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits”), “The Other Woman” is mainly useful now because it illuminates an earlier era in the current Oscar nominee’s career, when she was more susceptible to bad choices. Ironically, the VOD numbers inadvertently validate those choices long after she has moved beyond them.

Factor in the curiosity quotient here and it’s clear people will take a chance on an odd little movie or a movie featuring a early performance, which wouldn’t be worth risking a high ticket price and all the other ancillary costs involved.  If you’re an artist who wants his/her content seen by an audience this is an amazing distribution boon.

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