Radius-TWC offered a rare look inside the VOD numbers today, providing nontheatrical earnings for its recent documentaries The Unknown Known and Oscar winner 20 Feet From Stardom. The company, which unveiled the Mike Myers-helmed Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon, opened Oscar winner Errol Morris’ Unknown Known in early April. It has cumed nearly $270K in its nine weeks in theaters, but VOD/digital platforms drew an additional $1 million. Meanwhile, 20 Feet From Stardom, has banked $1.3 million from VOD/digital, adding to its $4.945 million theatrical take in its 52 consecutive weeks of release since June 14, 2013. “We’re going to keep going until it hits $5 million,” said Quinn, Co-President of Radius along with Jason Janego.
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“There’s an interesting nexus of several things happening at once,” Quinn told Deadline. “I think it’s worth highlighting some of the nonfiction work that we’ve done. We did [Unknown Known] as day-and-date because we feel that the director Errol Morris has a heavy following on Twitter and even skews younger in some respects but also because of the notoriety of the subject, Don Rumsfeld. That collective gross gives a sense of how it fits into the marketplace. If it were a purely theatrical film, it would be the second-highest-grossing documentary of the year [so far].” The total would put Unknown Known roughly on par with IFC Films’ doc Finding Vivian Maier, which has cumed about $1.36 million theatrically. (That film also is available via on demand platforms, but IFC Films remains hush-hush about its nontheatrical grosses). Sony Classics’ Tim’s Vermeer, meanwhile, has grossed about $1.67 million theatrically since its January release. “Errol absolutely loves this release pattern and likes the interaction that it allows for,” said Quinn. “I think he’d like to do this again, and we’d love to work with him again.”
Radius-TWC triumphed both at the box office and on the awards circuit with 20 Feet From Stardom. Along with its Oscar, the Morgan Neville-directed crowd pleaser of course won the Best Documentary prize at this year’s Oscars in addition to the Independent Spirit Award and numerous other critics and festival nods.
Deadline’s conversation Friday with Radius followed a similar one in November, in which the label exclusively gave me numbers for the Keanu Reeves-directed martial arts film Man Of Tai Chi, which at that point had grossed $1.5 million across digital, satellite and cable platforms ahead its big-screen rollout. Theatrically, the feature only managed about $100K, but the combined grosses give a window into the all-important multi-platform release model. Weekend theatrical grosses are de rigueur, but many companies including such pioneers in that realm as IFC Films and Magnolia Pictures have remained silent on their results. (Quinn is a former Magnolia exec.) But it’s widely assumed that they are a significant source of revenue. Some execs have noted that tabulating nontheatrical grosses is inherently not the same as weekly box office receipts, so giving weekend numbers from on-demand and VOD sources are not possible. In October, entertainment lawyer/producer John Sloss issued a challenge to companies in the VOD/digital business to report their numbers and offered up figures for Escape From Tomorrow, which his Producers Distribution Agency released that month.
Still, theatrical has been kind so far to Radius’ other 2014 doc Fed Up. The Sundance premiere has cumed about $1.13 million from traditional ticket-buyers. The film by Stephanie Soechtig and executive producer Katie Couric examines the obesity epidemic in America and the food industry’s complicity in aggravating the health crisis. “We’ve been working feverishly on Fed Up,” said Janego. “It crossed a million bucks after a three weeks early last Sunday. “I’m very pleased with that especially in a marketplace that doesn’t have much success to speak of for the issue-oriented film. It’s on Capitol Hill as we speak as they get ready to vote on a new school lunch program. Beyond the box office success, it’s having an impact on the issue itself.” Fed Up is not the only issue-oriented doc Radius has opened in the past year. In September it bowed Inequality For All, featuring former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich warning of the growing income disparity in America. That film topped $1.2 million in theaters.
“For Fed Up, the publicity schedule and outreach on that film is like we’re opening tomorrow,” said Quinn. “The amount of social connectivity is higher than anything we’ve ever worked on.”
As it bows Supermensch this weekend, Radius is taking a page out of its 20 Feet release and hoping to emulate some of that success. The pic is opening exclusively in New York and L.A. before heading into the top 10 markets in the coming weeks, a similar trajectory to 20 Feet‘s rollout. Future nonfiction titles on the Radius docket include jazz documentary Keep On Keepin’ On, which it picked up out of Tribeca, and Beyond The Brick: A Lego Brickumentary, which also premiered at the festival.
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