‘Australia Day’ sets pricing as more titles take premium VOD route
How many Australians are prepared to pay $19.95 to watch Kriv Stenders’ Australia Day on Dendy Direct and $24.95 to see the title on Foxtel Store?
The Foxtel-commissioned movie went live on both sites on September 27, one week after the cinema premiere, the first test for the premium VOD (PVOD) model in Australia.
Dendy/Icon CEO Greg Hughes, who is partnered with Foxtel on the PVOD initiative, tells IF he expects to have reliable buy-rate estimates in about two weeks, given the time lag in reporting digital transactions.
Produced by Hoodlum Entertainment, the drama starring Bryan Brown, Shari Sebbens, Sean Keenan, Matthew Le Nevez, Daniel Webber and Elias Anton grossed just $14,000 in its first week on 13 screens and $52,000 with festival screenings.
However that may have little or no bearing on the desire to see the film scripted by Stephen M Irwin, which was well promoted on Foxtel, among its 2.9 million subscribers and Dendy Direct’s customers.
Customers can view the film multiple times in a 72-hour window and play, pause and rewind at will.
Regardless of the result, the partners are committed to the PVOD model, with two more niche films due for release next month and at least three more before the school holidays hiatus.
Next up will be The Girl with All the Gifts, a British post-apocalyptic zombie horror movie directed by Colm McCarthy and written by M.R. Carey adapted from his novel of the same name.
Glenn Close plays a scientist and Gemma Arterton is a teacher in the post-Dystopian saga about a girl who is immune to the strange fungus that turns everyone into flesh-eating monsters.
The film was released in the UK by Warner Bros. last September and went straight-to-video via Lionsgate in the US in April.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is arranging a limited theatrical release at Dendy Cinemas on October 5 before the PVOD launch on October 11.
That will be followed by Transmission Films’ The Limehouse Golem, a British horror/mystery which stars Bill Nighy as a detective who is assigned to the case of a serial killer who leaves behind mutilated corpses and his distinctive signature in blood. That will premiere at Dendy on October 19 and online on October 25.
Hughes said, “These two fantastic genre films are perfect for the Marquee business model. Avid fans who want to see these movies at first release can now do so on the big screen if a cinema nearby is playing the film or via premium on demand on Dendy Direct.”
Distributors will be keen to see the results on Australia Day as they deliberate which of their titles may be viable for that model.
There is no precedent for estimating the likely or potential digital revenues. But as a point of reference, US BO hits can earn upwards of $1 million from VOD and electronic sell-through (EST).
The more successful Australian and other independent films can rake in $300,000 and more from VOD, the mid-range earn $200,000 and the lesser titles $50,000-$60,000 or less.
Exhibitors agreed to a minimum season of two weeks for Australia Day, with at least two daytime and one evening session each day for the first week and one per day and night the second week.
It will be available on Dendy Direct, branded Dendy Marquee, for seven weeks. There will be the usual 90-days window between the theatrical premiere and EST, VOD and DVD.
That window may be moot if the Hollywood studios reach agreement next year with US exhibitors to release films on PVOD in a much shorter time frame after theatrical.
Still in negotiation are the pricing – a rental fee of $US30 is widely touted – the duration of the window and a revenue-sharing deal between distributors and exhibitors.
Fox and Warner Bros. are reported to favour a window of 30-45 days while Universal is keen for 20 days.
One thing is sure: Wherever the US takes the lead in restructuring windows, the rest of the world, including Australia, will follow.