Imagine you’re the owner of a struggling independent movie theater. You’ve just spent tens of thousands of dollars on a digital protector to replace (or at least augment) your now-obsolete 35mm projector. Exacerbating the rapid migration of indie moviegoers to home viewing, many distributors are making their movies available on VOD either the same time you get them, or in some cases weeks or even a month before. Desperate for a hit, you turn your eyes to the Weinstein Brothers, who have supplied them steadily and reliably since Sex, Lies And Videotape in 1989, and still have the same marketing clout. They’ve got a crowd-pleaser on the horizon called One Chance, from the director of The Devil Wears Prada, about Paul Potts, a working-class bloke who came out of nowhere to win Britain’s Got Talent in 2007. And though the Weinsteins have moved that horizon back a few times—from early February to mid-March to late August and finally to October 10—perhaps it’ll stave off your creditors for one more month.
Or perhaps people can just watch it for free on Yahoo! for 10 days before it opens, instead of dropping $15 per ticket before factoring in parking, concessions, and babysitting fees. Say what you will about pre-theatrical VOD, but at least it values movies enough to charge something for them.
Last weekend, One Chance grossed $32,800 on 43 screens for a beyond-anemic $763 per screen average. According to a Yahoo! spokesperson, the company is “pleased” with the film’s performance on its Screen streaming service, which might be expected when something that ordinarily has value is given away for free. And Variety reports that The Weinstein Company has agreed to extend its deal with Yahoo until November 9, by which point the theoretical arthouse theater owner described in the first paragraph will have had his kneecaps smashed by a burly collector named Ox. But from the Weinsteins’ perspective—and Yahoo!’s—the deal is about serving a growing and changing marketplace, and once they’ve got online visitors hooked on the latest inspirational hoo-hah, they’ll start paying money to mainline the stuff.
If you want to watch One Chance for nothing, go here. We gave it two and a half stars.