The longer the 2012 Sundance Film Festival deal-making stalemate continues, the more VOD-centric deals will take center stage as they did in Toronto. A lot of the movies that came in with visions of theatrical releases are considering overtures from bidders who intend to emulate the Margin Call model where video-on-demand is equal to or more important than theatrical.
If VOD is to become a viable business that leads films on the margins to being widely seen, some obstacles have to be worked out of the system. The biggest: convincing actors accustomed to seeing their work play on 2,000 movie screens that the VOD model doesn’t mean their careers are on the downswing and that they’ve been relegated to pay-per-view. The only real equivalent actors have had for this was when they made a stinker that went straight to video obscurity. Will those actors spark to the potential of VOD riches and embrace the idea of promoting films to cable delivery systems instead of the ego-boosting traditional selling system of commercials and print ads? This is a psychological hurdle for stars. When Margin Call sold at Sundance last year with the Lionsgate/Roadside Attraction distribution VOD deal, veteran actors like Kevin Spacey had to be convinced this wasn’t necessarily a step down from a traditional theatrical release.