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John Sloss Posts ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ VOD Revenues; Dares Rivals To Do Same

By | Monday October 28, 2013 @ 9:15am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: John Sloss, whose Producers Distribution Agency is releasing the provocative unauthorized Disney World-shot Escape From Tomorrow, reports that in its first two weeks, the film grossed $139,334 in theatrical revenues — and $120,560 in VOD/digital grosses — for a total take of $259,894. VOD, he said, was $55,000 and broadband revenue was $65,000. Now, that’s chump change for a studio release, but groundbreaking in that Sloss even volunteered it. Unless it’s after the fact on a triumph like Margin Call or Arbitrage, it feels like most multi-platform distributors would sooner give out the numbers to their personal bank accounts than timely VOD grosses. It makes my job reporting specialty box office an incomplete exercise, because VOD/digital revenues play a bigger role on the specialty film release circuit every year. Distributors say their films clean up on cable and broadband, but there is no reliable mechanism for timely tally on VOD revenues the way there is on theatricals.

Related: Fantastic Fest: Can Disney-Set ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ Succeed If The Mouse Won’t Roar?

Sloss, who is on both sides of the coin in that his Cinetic Media brokers film distribution deals and PDA does multi-platform releasing on films like the Banksy documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop, has issued a challenge to his rivals: cough up the numbers as they get from cable companies, iTunes and other revenue providers, and create a level of transparency that shows what VOD really means to the bottom lines of prestige films.

“We are calling upon those distributors who have been pioneers of the day-and-date evolution to supply Cinetic with their cable and broadband VOD grow numbers,” Cinetic said in a statement. “When combined with the readily available theatrical gross numbers, it will enable us to post ‘Multi-Screen Grosses’ by Monday of each week. This service is designed to help filmmakers make more informed choices when deciding between more traditional theatrical scenarios and day and date releases.”

Right now, my specialty box office report leaves me with theatrical release givens like screen count, per screen average and total gross. The VOD numbers are anybody’s guess, even though they probably often dwarf theatrical revenue on day-and-date and ultra-VOD releases; there, theaters often won’t play those films at all, or not through the traditional revenue split system deals between distributors and theaters. That means distribs have to “four wall” theaters, or essentially rent the screens for a set fee.

“There are a group of distributors that are increasingly moving toward day-and-date releases,” Sloss told me. “There must be a reason they’re doing that. They know it. There’s no reason why filmmakers and financiers shouldn’t know it as well. Rather than just making a decision based on faith, they should be able to do just like the distributor is doing by making decisions based on information. It’s time for that statistics to be known. It should have happened immediately when distributors moved from pure theatrical to day and date because it is the functional equivalent to theatrical box office.” Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: Tragic Numbers For ‘Romeo & Juliet’ ; Sloss Promises VOD Numbers For ‘Escape From Tomorrow’

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsSpecialty alternatives to Gravity and Captain Phillips failed to attract significant numbers this weekend as newcomers including Relativity’s Romeo & Juliet release turned in poor-to-adequate numbers. Producers Distribution Agency, which has released a half dozen titles including 2010′s Banksy hit Exit Through The Gift Shop, opened Escape From Tomorrow from first time feature filmmaker Randy Moore in 30 theaters to a so-so $66K ($2,204 PSA). More importantly: Entertainment lawyer/sales agent John Sloss has vowed that this film will be a template in transparency. Sloss told me last week and again this morning that Escape‘s VOD/digital numbers will be reported and he hopes this will encourage others to do the same. VOD numbers have remained a mystery in box office reporting, though it’s widely accepted that they are a huge chunk if not the bulk of many specialty films’ overall gross. I told a rival distributor at the closing night of the New York Film Festival that Sloss/PDA said they would disclose VOD/digital numbers and that person conveyed sympathy for filmmakers, agents etc. for wanting or needing to know the numbers. He also thinks it could be a disservice because the “general public” naturally gravitates to what is popular in terms of numbers and they’ll be exposed to “spin” by the media… Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘As I Lay Dying’, ‘The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete’, ‘Escape From Tomorrow’, ‘God Loves Uganda’, ‘Broadway Idiot’, ‘Zero Charisma’, ‘Ghost Team One’

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

The wall of silence around digital and VOD numbers may be showing some initial cracks. This weekend, John Sloss’ Producers Distribution Agency is opening Escape From Tomorrow day and date and the veteran entertainment lawyer/sales agent said all numbers will “be transparent.” He vows to make it a model for others, saying it “behooves” filmmakers, insiders and — well, everyone — to understand how the numbers work. VOD/digital often out-weigh theatrical figures, but there has been little way to confirm individual numbers. The title joins another crowded weekend of newcomers, though the onslaught of Specialty titles appears to be decreasing in coming weeks. Among the limited release titles opening this weekend are Millennium’s As I Lay Dying from James Franco, CodeBlack/Lionsgate’s The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete, Variance’s God Loves Uganda, FilmBuff’s Broadway Idiot and Tribeca Film/Nerdist’s Zero Charisma.

As I Lay Dying
Director-writer: James Franco
Writer: William Faulkner (novel)
Cast: James Franco, Danny McBride, Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Jenkins, Ahna O’Reily, Tim Blake Nelson
Distributor: Millennium Entertainment

James Franco directed, adapted and stars in As I Lay Dying, based on William Faulkner’s novel. The ’30s classic is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family’s quest to honor her wish to be buried in the nearby town of Jefferson. The ubiquitous Franco approached Millennium about being involved with the project, which gave him the go ahead. “James came to us and said he wanted to direct it,” said Millennium’s Mark Gill. Read More »

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Fantastic Fest: Can Disney-Set ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ Succeed If The Mouse Won’t Roar?

By | Saturday September 21, 2013 @ 2:02pm PDT

Controversy put Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow on the radar at Sundance, where critics predicted that the fictional drama filmed without permission at Disney World would have to get past a courtroom before it reached theaters. As Escape nears its October multi-platform release, it has been deafening silence from Disney; not even Jiminy Cricket is chirping. That is the worst thing that could happen to a film where the venue is the only recognizable thing in a feature made on the cheap with no stars. Escape earned early notoriety for its subversive shoot after the filmmakers got The New York Times to flog a brewing David Vs. Goliath battle at Sundance. Turns out that newspaper was simply slinging hype and reflecting wishful thinking from the film’s backers. Disney doesn’t seem to care and the film is left to fly or die by its merits. At this weekend’s genre-heavy Fantastic Fest, where movie geeks gobble up subversive films, the pic screened with a whimper.

Related: ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ Gets Fall Release

Cinetic sales rep John Sloss, whose Producers Distribution Agency is releasing the picture after it went unbought at Sundance, tells me some interested buyers were wary of crossing Disney when the film first screened. Sloss said he had offers, but Deadline has heard they were smallish and that Disney’s ire wasn’t the big factor. Getting a rise out of a corporation can be the best thing that can happen to a small film; earlier this year, the documentary Blackfish got on the map after its subject, Sea World, publicly griped about the characterization of multiple deaths involving its killer whales. Disney hasn’t made a peep, robbing Escape From Tomorrow of a lot of free publicity. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Escape From Tomorrow’

By | Wednesday September 11, 2013 @ 11:29am PDT

Randy Moore’s buzzy Sundance thriller was shot in secret in Disney parks with a distinctly non-Disneyfied tale of dread and paranoia in the happiest place on Earth. The distribution trifecta of Producers Distribution Agency (PDA), Abramorama, and FilmBuff will release Escape From Tomorrow in theaters on October 11 as well as on VOD and digital platforms, although nobody’s yet talking about how the pic’s skirting Disney’s legal muscle. Check out the first trailer:

Related: Film Shot Secretly At Disneyland Gets Fall Release

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‘Escape From Tomorrow,’ Film Shot Secretly At Disneyland, Gets Fall Release

By | Monday August 19, 2013 @ 1:48pm PDT

Distribution prospects looked dire for Randy Moore’s Sundance sensation Escape From Tomorrow, the provocative film shot guerrilla style at Disneyland and Disney World depicting one man’s descent into madness in the happiest place on Earth. But Producers Distribution Agency (PDA) announced today they’ll release the film this fall in theaters and on VOD in partnership with Abramorama and FilmBuff. The film follows a middle-aged American husband and father of two who loses his job, but keeps up appearances as he takes his brood on vacation. There he becomes obsessed with a pair of French teenage girls as paranoid visions and bizarre encounters mark the unraveling of his idyllic family outing. Disney had no part in the film and did not give Moore or his crew consent to film in its parks. Yet iconic Disney amusements like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, a Main Street parade and Epcot Center figure into the narrative, sparking media debate over whether or not the film would ever see the light of day. Read More »

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