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Rod Lurie’s Afghanistan war thriller, based on the book by CNN host Jake Tapper and which Deadline’s Pete Hammond lauded as the equal of modern classics like Dunkirk or The Hurt Locker, was the No. 1 movie on iTunes on its opening day Friday. Its distributor is Screen Media, the longtime specialty outfit acquired by CSSE in 2017.
Originally, Screen Media had planned to premiere The Outpost at South by Southwest and then give it a nationwide theatrical run via Fathom, but COVID-19 upended the strategy. In a press release, CSSE called it “the largest opening day in company history,” though it did not reveal any financials or metrics. On Monday, it still had the top spot on the iTunes VOD chart.
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While major theaters have been closed for months, some distributors have been able to capitalize on VOD releases and the overall boom in streaming during the pandemic. Unlike theatrical, where exhibitors generally take half of the revenue, VOD proceeds can be controlled more by the distributor, though third party distributors like Apple and Amazon take a cut.
The Outpost was adapted from Tapper’s book by Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson. It depicts the Battle of Kamdesh, which was the bloodiest American engagement of the Afghan War in 2009. A tiny unit of U.S. soldiers, alone at the remote Combat Outpost Keating in the valley of three mountains in Afghanistan, faced a co-ordinated attack by Taliban fighters.
The cast includes Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom, Jack Kesy, Taylor John Smith, Jacob Scipio and Milo Gibson. Three soldiers who fought at COP Keating also appear in the film, including Medal of Honor recipient Ty Carter (who is played by Jones).
Beyond Screen Media, which acquires and releases films theatrically and across other platforms CSSE also runs ad-supported video on demand [AVOD] services like Crackle and Popcornflix.
Last month, Crackle revealed more than 200 hours of new streaming programming. Since taking operational control of the service in 2019, CSSE has seen success from shows like Going from Broke, a money-management reality series whose executive producers include Ashton Kutcher.
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