Indie Stream: 'Charlie Countryman's' Drug-Fueled Romp Hits VOD Platforms

The Shia LaBeouf vehicle is joined by a "Calvin and Hobbes" doc and "Kilimanjaro" in a big week for streaming indies.

Kilimanjaro tells the story of Doug (The Hurt Locker’s Brain Geraghty), who is in rut both professionally and personally.  While watching a TV special on Kilimanjaro,he decides to find meaning in his life by climbing the great mountain peak, but what he doesn’t plan for is how mundane every day things will get in his way, including having trouble working out his vacation schedule with his boss (comedian Jim Gaffigan).  

Kilimanjaro hasn't been widely reviewed, but it was warmly received when it screened at South By Southwest last March.  Since the Austin screening , the film has been traveling heavily to small film festivals and special event screenings all across the country, but will be landing on iTunes and OnDemad on Tuesday. 

STORY: John Sloss dares indie distributors to release VOD grosses

Charlie Countryman has been a hot property every since Matt Drake’s script landed on the 2007 Black List.  At one point it was even targeted as a Zac Efron vehicle.  So many people were drawn to the project that when director Fredrik Bond was attached to direct he received a call from Moby, who was looking to do some music for the film because he too liked the script.   

The film is being compared to Tony Scott’s True Romance, which Quentin Tarantino wrote.  While that comparison doesn’t necessarily hold water (both are fairly distinct films), it does get at the fact the film is hard to categorize, which is something The Hollywood Reporter's Justin Lowe wrote about when the film played at Sundance: “Commercials director Fredrik Bond makes a promising feature debut with this fanciful crime-drama romance that gratifyingly eschews strict genre classification.”

Sundance Review:  Charlie Countryman

Charlie Countryman has a powerhouse cast joining lead Shia LaBeouf, including Evan Rachel Wood, Melissa Leo, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Rupert Grint (be prepared for Harry Potter’s Ron Weasley playing a wannabe porn star) , Vincent D’Onofrio and with John Hurt supplying the narration.  Charlie Countryman is available now on VOD, while it simultaneously opened in 15 cities on Friday.

Also getting a day and date release this week is Joel Schroeder’s Calvin and Hobbes doc Dear Mr. Watterson.  The documentary’s reviews lean positive, with most somewhat faulting the film for not covering any new ground, but at the same time crediting it for making the love letter Calvin and Hobbes fans can still appreciate.  

THR has already covered how Watterson has tapped into the Calvin and Hobbes community to fund and promote the film, but one thing to take into consideration is just how big that community really is.  When Bill Watterson stopped the comic strip in 1995, it was syndicated to hundreds of millions through 2400 newspapers.  Since that time the 3,100 individual Calvin and Hobbes comic strips have been split into 18 books which have sold over 45 million copies, with approximately a half million still selling annually.   If the doc can capture even a portion of that rapid fan base it has the potential to be VOD success.

Calvin and Hobbes doc is DIY success story

On Thursday, based purely on pre-orders, Dear Mr. Watterson had already reached number 15 on the iTunes chart of top documentaries. 

Last Week we covered the streaming releases of How I live Now and The Motel Life.  Both did well on iTunes indie chart, with How I live Now finishing the week at #11 and Motel Life cracking the top 10 (#9).  They were joined in the top 20 by another VOD newcomer, Cold Turkey, which slotted in at #13.  Turkey hit VOD on 11/12 and opens in Los Angeles today and New York next week.

It’s not clear exactly what the iTunes charts are documenting, as Apple doesn’t reveal any numbers, nor give any explanation of what the charts actually represent.  The only reason Indie Stream even quotes these rankings is they are all we have in the black hole that is VOD box office.  Hopefully a significant step may have been taken this week to start to rectify this problem.  

As reported in THR earlier in the week, Cinetic’s John Sloss challenged other day and date distributors to release their online box office by releasing the cable and broadcast revenues for Escape From Tomorrow.  Sloss also announced Film Buff’s website would be collecting this information and updating it weekly.  So far the only films listed, in addition to Escape, are Spark: A Burning Man Story and TWC-Radius release Man of Tai Chi.  

Keep an eye on the website though and hopefully more companies will accept Sloss’s challenge.