Fresh off making waves with the VOD release of “Snowpiercer,” the Weinstein Company is toying with the distribution model once more by pre-releasing a film on the Internet. The indiedistrib will debut “One Chance,” the true story of a “Britain’s Got Talent” winner, exclusively on Yahoo Screen 10 days before releasing it theatrically.
It’s not clear what the reaction will be from exhibitors, but companies that release pictures simultaneously on demand and in theaters are sometimes banned from showing their film in certain theaters.
“One Chance” has already played musical chairs with release dates. It had originally been scheduled for release on Feb. 7 before being moved back to March 14 and pushed yet again to Aug. 29. A new date hasn’t been announced, but it will likely be in theaters in September or October.
Some films that have played around with their distribution model have been rewarded for their boldness. “Snowpiercer” reportedly brought in $2 million after being released three weeks after its theatrical bow on VOD and 2011’s “Margin Call” took in north of $4 million from going day-and-date. “One Chance” alters the mold in another way, however. The film is being licensed to Yahoo and will be available to Yahoo Screen customers for free instead of with a paid rental fee. The Weinstein Co. believes it can appeal to audiences that only see films on the computer screen without alienating specialty ticket-buyers because of the “Snowpiercer” experience and the work that it has done with its Radius arm in rolling out films such as “Solomon Kane” and “Only God Forgives” on multiple platforms.
For Yahoo, the release bolsters its growing emphasis on unique content that can goose ad revenues. The company has already invested heavily in talent, signing pacts with the likes of David Pogue and Katie Couric and made a deal to broadcast 13 new episodes of “Community” as a way of differentiating itself in the digital space.
“In today’s digital era, technology has developed and changed the landscape of how many people watch movies and TV,” said David Glasser, COO and president of the Weinstein Co., in a statement. “Our partnership with Yahoo has allowed us to adapt and expand our reach to limitless audiences.”
Yahoo launched its first video-hosting site in 2006, but has a lower profile than other streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix. The ad-supported platform also has new original series coming from Paul Feig, the writer-producer of “Freaks & Geeks,” and Mike Tollin, executive producer of “Smallville” and “One Tree Hill.”
“One Chance” has an impressive pedigree — the cast includes James Corden and Julie Walters, while David Frankel (“The Devil Wears Prada”) directs. Critics have liked it, while noting its pre-determined uplift, with Variety’s Scott Foundas labeling it a “a precision-engineered crowd pleaser.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly described “20 Feet From Stardom” as a multi-platform release when it was a standard theatrical release.