Jonathan Sehring, the president of IFC Entertainment, was sold on VOD's prospects after the 2006 IFC production "Kill the Poor" failed to attract a theatrical buyer.
"We felt that the VOD platform would be able to get the movie into as wide as possible a release with as little [film print and advertising spending] as possible," Sehring said. "The new generation of filmmakers realize that the business has changed, and they realize that if their movie is going to be seen by the widest possible audience, it doesn't matter to them if it's seen on an iPod or at the Ziegfeld."
But even some of IFC's better-known VOD releases are hardly making a killing in the emerging format. The critically acclaimed Italian mob drama "Gomorrah," which IFC bought after the film premiered at Cannes last year, has grossed about $1.5 million in domestic theaters. Its VOD numbers are small in comparison, about 85,000 purchases, for net revenue to IFC of about $250,000.
When producers sell their movies to a VOD packagers like Magnolia Pictures, Sloss' Cinetic Film Buff, IFC's In Theaters or Festival Direct, it's unlikely they will get a meaningful paycheck in return -- perhaps as little as $10,000. Although the VOD distributors say they are sharing revenue with their filmmakers, they must first recoup their marketing and distribution costs, and then deduct any advance payments they've already made to the filmmakers.