×
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

  • Adele Haenel Adèle Haenel

    Accusations Against Roman Polanski, Other Filmmakers Propel #MeToo in France

    When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke two years ago, the news was mostly met in France with a Gallic shrug. Screen icon Catherine Deneuve even denounced the #MeToo movement as creating a “totalitarian” environment. But bombshell accusations this month from actors Adèle Haenel and Valentine Monnier may finally have turned the tide in the local film [...]

  • Subhash Chandra Chairman of the Zee

    Another 16% Slice of India’s Zee to be Sold by Essel

    The Essel Group is to sell a further 16.5% stake in Zee Entertainment Enterprise Limited, India’s largest private sector broadcast group. The debt-reduction move comes just months after Essel auctioned off an 11% tranche of ZEEL. “The Group seeks to sell up to 16.5% stake in ZEEL to financial investors, in order to repay loan [...]

  • Frank Cicha

    Listen: Why Fox Television Stations Embraced Trial and Error in Daytime

    Frank Cicha, head of programming for Fox Television Stations, saw the future coming nearly a decade ago when Fox’s TV station group committed many millions to land syndication rights to “The Big Bang Theory” back in 2010. Even then, it was clear that big hits on the scale of “Big Bang” were going to be [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Files Malicious Prosecution Counterclaim Against City of Chicago

    Jussie Smollett has filed a counterclaim against the city of Chicago, several Chicago Police Department officers, and brothers Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo claiming that he was the victim of a malicious prosecution that caused him “humiliation, mental anguish and extreme emotional distress.” The filing document, obtained by Variety, alleges that the Chicago P.D. “obtained false and [...]

  • Anna-Kendrick-Frito-Lay-ad

    Christmas Crunch: Frito-Lay Bets on Anna Kendrick to Catch Holiday Snackers

    Anna Kendrick’s newest role puts her through what may be some of the most delicious torture of her career. Kendrick, known for films like “Up In The Air” and “Pitch Perfect,” recently found herself on the set of a three-day shoot surrounded by bowls, bowls and bowls of chips, popcorn and other salty snacks that [...]

  • CJ-CGV Cinemas

    CJ CGV Sells $286 Million Stake in Asian Cinema Businesses

    CJ CGV, the Korean movie theaters giant, is to raise $286 million from the sale of a slice of its Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese businesses. The company, which has its own stock market listing and is affiliated to the CJ Group, which includes CJ E&M and CJ Entertainment, said this week that it had sold [...]

  • Alibaba offices

    Hong Kong Share Sale Brings Alibaba an Easy $13 Billion

    Chinese e-commerce and entertainment giant Alibaba was easily able to sell all the shares it put up for sale in a secondary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The company is selling 500 million new shares, which on Wednesday it announced would be priced at HK$176 apiece, or roughly US$180 per New York-traded ADR, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content