×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cameron Dallas’ ‘Expelled’ Movie Tops Digital Sales Charts in First Day of Release

AwesomenessTV has a hit on its hands in high school comedy “Expelled,” starring YouTube and Vine celeb Cameron Dallas — a case study in how to make money from younger consumers with movies.

The film, which received a limited run in theaters on Dec. 12 before being sold as a download on most digital platforms, debuted at No. 1 on many of the services, including Apple’s iTunes store, as a Digital HD title after its first day of release.

It’s tough to compare how “Expelled” is performing vs. other Digital HD releases since most online retailers don’t release specific sales figures. However, the No. 1 slot on iTunes is often reached only by films that have earned more than $80 million at the box office.

On iTunes, “Expelled” jumped from No. 52 on its launch day to No. 1, with fans and the cast cheering its ascension on Twitter.

After reaching the top spot on iTunes on Tuesday, “Expelled” fell to “The Equalizer” on Wednesday but was still outpacing “The Maze Runner” (another youth-skewing title), “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “This Is Where I Leave You” in the top five.

Alex Goyette wrote, directes and produced “Expelled,” essentially a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” for the digital demo that follows a prankster, played by Dallas, who’s expelled from his high school after one stunt too many, and the antics he employs to keep it a secret from his parents.

The comedy also features a cast of other notable YouTube and Vine stars like Andrea Russett, Lia Marie Johnson, Marcus Johns, Michelle Glavan and Teala Dunn, as well as Matt Shively (Nickelodeon’s “True Jackson, VP”).

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment handled the digital distribution of “Expelled,” an 85-minute film that’s rated PG-13. The studio is selling the film for $9.99 on iTunes, Google Play, Comcast, Amazon Instant Video, Target Ticket and Walmart’s Vudu. The film’s website also is making “Expelled” available for purchase.

The title will be released on cable-based VOD services on Dec. 30.

So far, it looks like Cameron’s fanbase — he has 6.1 million followers on Vine and 2.8 million on YouTube — is turning out.

The same is true for his co-stars.

Russett has 1.8 million followers on YouTube, 2.1 million on Instagram, and 1.5 million on Twitter, while Johnson has 1.4 million followers on YouTube.

“Expelled” already has 5,578 reviews — all five stars — on iTunes. “Equalizer” has 123.

See More: Can YouTubers Help Sell Home Video Titles? Fox is First to Find Out with ‘X-Men’

What helped was that Dallas launched multiple Twitter hashtag campaigns, including #ExpelledMovieToNumberOne — which wound up trending worldwide on Twitter on its release date. The movie is the first from AwesomenessTV Films, which considered it a test to see whether the company could turn its online talent into bonafide film stars through longer, more scripted productions, rather than the shortform videos in which they currently appear.

AwesomenessTV also clearly sees features as another way to generate revenue through partnerships (Coca-Cola sponsored the film) and merchandise (T-shirts and other products are sold on the film’s website).

The successful digital release of “Expelled” is a “reflection of the ever-changing marketplace, with fans who want to own their favorite movies and enjoy them on their terms,” said Brian Robbins, founder of AwesomenessTV.​

Similarly, Fox, which distributes DreamWorks Animation’s films, sees the release of “Expelled” as ushering in a new business model with DWA’s AwesomenessTV, and as an opportunity to reach out to younger moviegoers — and consumers — in a new way.

That’s because the project micro-targeted the often fickle teen audience with a script and social-media stars who also used social platforms as an awareness builder.

“​Every aspect of this project has been unique, including the casting, the distribution window sequence and the sophisticated use of social media,” said Mike Dunn, president, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “The target audience for ‘Expelled’ is innately digital. They consume and communicate digitally.”

Given the film’s success, Fox is now considering releasing “Expelled” to non-English-speaking markets overseas in 2015. The film had been released only in English-speaking territories.

Fox has pushed hard to make Digital HD popular with younger audiences, and “Expelled” could help it build the brand further and encourage the demo to purchase more films via digital platforms.

The success of “Expelled” bodes well for another film from AwesomenessTV Films, that will feature Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, behind the massively popular SMOSH YouTube channel, which boasts more than 30 million subscribers. Lionsgate will release “The SMOSH Movie” sometime in 2015.

That production was jointly financed by AwesomenessTV, and Defy Media, a digital media company in which Lionsgate has an equity interest.

More Biz

  • Here’s How Much Money 10 Artists

    Here’s How Much Money 10 Artists Are Owed by PledgeMusic

    For eight years, PledgeMusic was a success story: A direct-to-fan platform where artists worked directly with their audiences to fund their albums, tours and all stripes of merchandise, with fans able to purchase everything from custom guitar picks to private concerts. Yet last June, Variety broke the news that the company is struggling to pay [...]

  • Korea's CJ CGV Switches Turkey CEOs

    Korea's CJ CGV Switches Turkey CEOs as It Battles With Local Industry

    Yeun Seung-ro has been appointed as CEO of CGV Mars Entertainment, the Korean-owned company that operates Turkey’s largest cinema chain. He replaces Kwak Dong Won, another veteran of the CJ-CGV group. The change of personnel may reflect two ongoing battles within the Turkish film industry. CJ-CGV, which bought Mars for some $650 million in 2016. [...]

  • China Video Streaming Giant iQIYI Loses

    Chinese Video Giant iQIYI Loses $1.3 Billion in 2018

    Chinese video streaming firm iQIYI lost over $1.3 billion in 2018, as revenues and subscriber numbers ballooned. The deepening losses reflected ever higher spending on original content production. Announcing its first full-year financials since a March IPO that launched it onto the NASDAQ, iQIYI said that it lost $1.3 billion (RMB9.1 billion) last compared with [...]

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up CEO Resigned After Son Was Accused of Sexual Assault

    Time’s Up has announced in a statement posted to Instagram that its former president and CEO Lisa Borders, who resigned Feb. 18, did so after her son was accused of sexual assault in a “private forum.” “Within 24 hours, Lisa made the decision to resign as President and CEO of Time’s Up and we agreed [...]

  • Louis Tomlinson Signs With Arista (EXCLUSIVE)

    Louis Tomlinson Signs With Arista (EXCLUSIVE)

    One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson has signed with Arista, sources tell Variety. While the singer was formerly linked with Epic Records in 2017, he is signed directly to Simon Cowell’s Syco label and will move within the Sony Music family to Arista. Tomlinson teased a new single on Feb. 2, posting on Twitter, “Just heard the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett's Bail Set at $100,000, Must Surrender Passport

    UPDATED: A Chicago judge set a $100,000 bond for Jussie Smollett on Thursday, as the “Empire” actor made his first court appearance. Smollett faces one felony count of filing a false police report. Police allege that Smollett staged a Jan. 29 attack, telling detectives that he was accosted by two men who used racial and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content