That was a strong enough showing to crack the weekend top five, despite heavy competition from the likes of “Get Hard,” “Home” and “Insurgent.” Credit critics with lifting this one out of the arthouse and into the mainstream. The creepy story of a young girl who experiences a supernatural stalker after a bizarre sexual experience currently enjoys a 95% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a rare feat given that horror is one of the most critically derided genres.
“When you know you’ve got something big, you’ve got to get it out there,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “They’re building an audience the same way that you would with an indie platform release. They’ve got terrific buzz, and this is one of those unexpected gifts that doesn’t come around too often.”
The Weinstein Co.’s boutique label is releasing the picture along with its sister company, Dimension. It apparently knew what it had, opting to delay a video-on-demand debut in favor of expanding its theatrical footprint from 32 locations to 1,218. It will continue to push “It Follows” into more venues next week, although it did not provide a theater count.
Radius-TWC has built a reputation for finding riches on video-on-demand with the likes of “Bachelorette” and “Snowpiercer,” but co-president Tom Quinn said the company was never wedded to any one release strategy when it came to “It Follows.”
“From day one we built all potential variables for success into the release strategy,” he told Variety. “That’s what’s made this a truly unique approach. Instead of constructing one inflexible model, we built a nimble hybrid that would allow the marketplace to dictate the best course of action. I’m happy the results prove it was the right strategy for what is a truly deserving gem.”
By next week, “It Follows” should pass “20 Feet From Stardom,” the Oscar-winning documentary about backup singers that made nearly $5 million, as Radius-TWC’s highest-grossing release. “It Follows” has earned $4.8 million since debuting on March 13.
“It’s not only the best-reviewed film of the year, but also one of the best horror films in over a decade,” Quinn said.
Some box office prognosticators, such as Forbes’ Scott Mendelson, labeled the expansion a disappointment owing to a so-so $3,301 per-screen average, but other analysts say going wide in this way was an important step in building word of mouth around the film.
“It’s the kind of thing that’s built to be a grassroots hit,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “Once people take a chance and see it, they’re clearly responding to it and recommending it.”
Contrino thinks the film will put up similar numbers next weekend.
For its part, Radius-TWC seems intent on getting the word out economically. It’s relying on digital platforms and social-media services such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Hulu and Pandora to reach audiences.
“It’s a very precise approach,” Contrino said . “You want to strike a balance between building up your audience and not getting carried away with your spending.”