TIFF: 'The Forger' Hits Nearly $3 Million on VOD for Saban Films (Exclusive)

Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

The 16-month-old company, which has never released VOD numbers before, creates unique release plans tailored to each of its films, ranging from traditional platform releases to more specialized VOD structures.

Saban Films, the distribution company founded by media magnate Haim Saban, acquired U.S. rights to John Travolta-starrer The Forger at the 2014 Film Festival for $2.5 million. It turns out the deal, one of the splashier of last year’s fest, was a smart bet.

The film has earned nearly $3 million across all VOD platforms, including theatrical, due to Saban’s customized distribution plan. The company, which has never before shared its VOD numbers, first released The Forger exclusively on DirecTV for a 30-day period, during which DirecTV did a strong ad push across all its platforms. Travolta also participated in the promotional campaign, stopping by the Late Show With David Letterman and the morning show circuit along with other junket and press interviews. The film was then released theatrically and on premium VOD where word-of-mouth helped it to rake in such a strong tally.

The Forger’s success is a reflection of the 16-month-old company’s overall distribution strategy, which is based on creating unique release plans specific to each film’s strengths. Saban Films is also seeing similar pacing with its latest release, the Pierce Brosnan-starrer Some Kind of Beautiful, which was released exclusively on DirecTV on July 23 and VOD on August 21.

“We want to let filmmakers know that not getting a nationwide theatrical release doesn’t mean your film is being dumped,” says Jonathan Saba, vp marketing. “In fact, the film can still be celebrated not just on the merit of its artistry but on its success in the marketplace.”

Saban Films has formed a two-pronged approach when it comes to distribution. Some films, like its first acquisition, the Tommy Lee Jones-helmed The Homesman, have gotten traditional theatrical platform releases, while others, like The Forger and Tracers, which starred Taylor Lautner, went through a VOD release with a theatrical component.

“We’re not looking for things that just work on DVD or just work on VOD or just work theatrically,” says Saban Films president Bill Bromiley. “Ultimately what we’re after is to find films that work in all the platforms.”

For its next release, Saban is also building a unique release plan around the film Man Up, which stars Simon Pegg and Lake Bell. They originally bought the romantic comedy as a planned day-and-date VOD release but after its warm reception at Tribeca, have decided to give it a more robust platform release, staring on Nov. 13 in New York and Los Angeles. The film will expand to eight additional markets in the second week of release, concurrent with the wide VOD launch across every platform. Depending on how Man Up does in its first weeks of release, Saban will continue to expand theatrically across the country.

Adds Saba: “Like all of our films, we knew we had to put something strategic and nuanced behind it to really maximize not just the profitability but the audience.”

As for this year at TIFF, Bromiley says: “We were very active last Toronto, but [the lineup of films for sale] is looking a lot thinner this year. If we walk away with a film or two we’ll be very happy.”

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