This week, Snowpiercer, Bong Joon-ho’s delightfully bizarre dystopian action film, has been hitting the headlines as it smashes towards the $5 million mark on VOD after just three weeks.

Snowpiercer started out as a theatrical release in only 8 cinemas, widening to 250 screens in its second week before opening on VOD. The film’s been racking up spectacular takings at the box office and online.

Indiewire spoke Radius-TWC about the release.

“As of August 1st, the film has racked up a stunning $4,973,142 after only three weeks on VOD and pulled in a respectable $4,139,199 in over six weeks in theaters. It could hit the $5 million mark at any point.

“We’re so close that we could be crossing that special threshold right now,” Jason Janego, Radius-TWC co-president, told Indiewire this afternoon.

The film also continues to fare well on iTunes where it has held the No. 1 spot for indies in the iTunes store since it hit the platform (and is currently #4 overall among movies on iTunes).”

Snowpiercer is the latest in a series of multiplatform success stories.  In 2011, Roadside tested out the model with Margin Call, a Kevin Spacey financial thriller which took  $5.4 million in theatres and nearly $8 million on VOD.

They followed up with Arbitrage, another financial thriller with Richard Gere in 2012, collecting $8 million at the box office and another $14 million in VOD sales.

With numbers like these, day and date and multiplatform releasing is here to stay.

It opens up films to audiences who can’t or wouldn’t see the movie in the cinema. Maybe because it’s not showing their area. Or they’re parents with young kids who can’t get out.

I’d even argue it could help to undercut piracy. By making films available across all platforms, it solves the access problem that drives a significant proportion of piracy. The gaming industry, with sites like Steam, are a fantastic model in how easy high quality access can reduce piracy.

It maximises distributors return on their marketing spend. Instead of staggering publicity for a DVD or VOD release for the traditional window of 90 days after the cinema release, when films have fallen out of the public consciousness, they can find you now, on any platform.

It makes more sense on the money front. Distributors get a much higher percentage of revenue from VOD sales compared cinema seats, where the splits favour the theatres. That’s good news for filmmakers, as it trickles down to them too.

Distribution strategies need to be tailored individually to each film. Multiplatform releases aren’t a one size fits all solution for every movie and there’s still some way to go in getting right.

In the UK, Curzon  have been pioneering day and date releasing. They’re currently releasing Nic Cage thriller Joe in cinemas and on their platform Curzon Home Cinema, with more films in the pipeline.

Documentary distributor Dogwoof have also been leading the charge, partnering with Google Play earlier this year for a day and date release of Mark Cousin’s A Story Of Children and Film.

For a detailed UK case study, check out the BFI report on Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England, which was released simultaneously in cinemas, DVD, TV and VOD in 2013

I’m fascinated to see how multiplatform releases evolve.

Agree, disagree, questions, thoughts? Hit me up in the comments.

Picture Credit: Snowpiercer

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