‘Snowpiercer’ Breaks Free of Hollywood’s Distribution Model

Directed by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick Snowpiercer breaks away from the traditional Hollywood distribution route and becomes available for online downloading and Video on Demand – just two weeks after its first U.S. theatrical release.

Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jean-Marc Rochette, Snowpiercer takes place in the year 2031 after a failed global experiment freezes the entire planet into an ice age.  The last human survivors board the Snowpiercer, a class-segregated train that endlessly travels the globe, and the protagonist Curtis (played by Chris Evans) leads his fellow impoverished passengers into a revolution against the elite.


Originally released in South Korea back in 2013, Snowpiercer smashed the South Korean box office record with four million viewers in just over one week – that’s more admissions than Iron Man 3.  Despite its rave reviews and star-studded cast, Snowpiercer opened in the U.S. for a limited theatrical release in only eight movie screens.  That’s right, eight screens.  And on the same opening weekend as Transformers: Age of Extinction, which released in 4,225 more screens.

Now, just two weeks after hitting American theaters, the acclaimed thriller is going from eight movie screens to the TV screens of 85 million households through Video On Demand (VOD) purchase.  That’s a whopping difference in viewership, and it’s an unprecedented and risky move for a mega-budget film like Snowpiercer.


But Radius-TWC, the film’s distributor and The Weinstein Company’s boutique division, is no stranger when it comes to releasing films on multiple platforms with their company motto being “A screen is a screen is a screen.”  Prior to the American release of Snowpiercer, there were rumors that the film’s dicey theatrical release was due to disputes regarding cuts to the film.  However, Radius admitted that they had planned an early VOD debut from the beginning, and the very limited theatrical release was always a part of their strategy to reel in the widest possible audience for the film.

“The film will be more widely available than every other film on screen this weekend combine,” said Tom Quinn, the co-president of Radius, “One way or the other, we’re going to find you somewhere.”

With a 93 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and earning over $80 million overseas, we can only imagine how much the increasing success of Snowpiercer will change the future of film distribution.  As for now, one thing is for certain.  If you haven’t seen Snowpiercer, it’s about to get a lot easier for you to watch it.

In fact, the film is already available for download on AmazoniTunes, and Google Play for those who want to watch it from home.  And for those who prefer the whole movie-going experience, the film has been expanded to 353 screens this weekend.  In other words, you no longer have an excuse to not watch this movie.


Sources: The Verge | WSJ | The Hollywood Reporter

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