Starz Exploring Releasing Some Indie Movies Exclusively on VOD

NEW YORK – The companies behind independent films are embracing VOD services to help make up for a smaller share of theatrical revenue and soft DVD sales, the Wall Street Journal detailed Monday.

According to the Digital Entertainment Group, a trade organization, consumer spending on VOD totaled $1.8 billion in 2010, up 21% from 2009, the Journal reported. Sales of movies on such digital download services as Apple's iTunes and grew 16% last year to $683 million.

Indie films are increasingly counting on VOD revenue as a key financial contributor.

Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser, for example, told the Journal that last week’s deal that sees his company take a 25% stake in Liberty Media's Starz Media, which also distributes content on VOD and online, will give the studio flexibility in the changing industry.

Given the success of indie fare on VOD, Starz is exploring releasing independent movies exclusively on VOD and not in theaters or on DVD, the Journal reported.

IFC’s new Natalie Portman drama The Other Woman premiered on IFC's VOD platform at the beginning of this year, but won't hit theaters until February. IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring told the Journal that the film is already on track to be its most successful VOD release ever.

"People in the business used to look at us like pariahs," he told the paper. "Now they're envious. The video-on-demand platform is a great place for American indie movies that had fallen off the map."

And Magnolia Picture president Eamonn Bowles told the paper that his studio’s biggest VOD success was last year's All Good Things, which earned $4 million from VOD, but made just $367,000 in theaters.

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