In many ways, the movie “It Follows” should have failed: It was an indie horror film made by an unknown director, released with a weak advertising budget to only 4 theaters its 1st week by Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s boutique film label Radius-TWC, and scheduled to be released to VOD (Video on Demand) beginning week 2 – often a tell-tale sign that the movie is not expected to do well in theaters (League, 2015). Although Radius-TWC set the initial sales threshold at only $2 million, the movie brought in more than $55 thousand per theater its first week and more than $14 million through May 21, 2015 (Box Office Mojo, 2015; League, 2015). These numbers may not seem like much when compared to, say, a blockbuster hit, but they are a mark of success for the Indie film industry – an industry that all too often takes a backseat to their mainstream counterparts.
The film’s success, of course, was not earned purely by accident. After posting impressive week 1 figures, Radius-TWC made the rare strategic decision to widen the film’s theatrical release and postpone the VOD release, much to the chagrin of VOD providers (League, 2015). Radius-TWC effectively challenged long-held notions that indie films are not commercially viable, and it offered indie distributors new strategies for marketing based on actual performance rather than just projected performance.
Distributors have no choice but to build marketing strategies around projected data if the film has not yet been released because no performance data yet exists. But even the best marketing strategy loses effect if it no longer aligns to the data it was created for. So why not be flexible enough to re-strategize later based on actual performance, especially if doing so is likely to yield more favorable results?
“It Follows” certainly earned its reputation on its own, but its success in theaters was the result of a dynamic, adaptable strategy. Indie distributors would be wise to take a page from Radius-TWC’s book.
Box Office Mojo. (2015). It Follows [data set]. Retrieved from: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekly&id=itfollows.htm
League, T. (2015, April 1). Tim League: It Follows is not a flop. Birth. Death. Movies. Retrieved from: http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2015/04/01/tim-league-it-follows-is-not-a-flop