The hidden world of Video On Demand profits
J Thoendell stashed this in Film
Certain fundamental changes have happened in the independent market as a result of VOD. Moviegoers are changing their habits. Distributors are changing their release strategies. And to accommodate all parties, arthouses are changing their projection booths and their programming in order to survive. We can safely guess that these changes are profound and transformative, and that the indie business will continue to evolve (or devolve) at a breathless pace. We can guess these things, but we can’t really know them with any kind of precision, because they can’t be quantified. And that’s because the money generated by VOD rentals is almost never disclosed. Figuring out what’s successful or unsuccessful on VOD—or the overall viability of the format, period—is like being lost in a wilderness within a wilderness. And the powers-that-be aren’t passing out flashlights.
But until we get the other side of the equation and understand precisely the degree to which viewers are migrating to VOD, any statements about the independent-film business can only be expressed in anecdotes and generalities. Distributors have compelling reasons to keep the numbers under wraps: Hiding failures is appealing, and hiding successes even more so, lest filmmakers seek their own piece of the action. For now, as these tectonic plates shift, all we can do is feel the ground moving under our feet. What we lack is a seismograph.