‘It Follows’ Expands as Radius-TWC Bets on Box Office Over VOD

Distributor delays teen horror film’s online and cable release so it can go into theaters nationwide after big limited debut

Radius-TWC, a major proponent of video-on-demand movies, has bet instead on expanding its sexy teen horror film “It Follows’ the old-school way — in theaters.

No one at The Weinstein Company’s niche label was talking Thursday, but it has decided to delay the film’s planned March 27 video-on-demand release, and will expand “It Follows” into roughly 40 theaters on Friday and aim for 1,000 theaters in two weeks, according to insiders.

Getting the micro-budgeted horror film into more theaters as quickly as possible became a priority for Radius after it posted the year’s best debut at the specialty box office last weekend. “It Follows” took in $160,000 in three days from four art house theaters — two in L.A. and two in New York. Major theaters typically insist on exclusive runs, so to get the major circuits meant Radius would have to delay the streaming date, which was never set in stone.

“The Weinstein Company made a smart decision,” said Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theaters Owners told TheWrap on Thursday.

“We are in favor of exploiting theatrical opportunities to the fullest. We are in favor of exploiting every window to the fullest. It’s good to see that TWC understood that a short or simultaneous VOD window limited the earnings potential of ‘It Follows.’”

Protecting exclusive runs are a big issue for theater owners, who are convinced that offering a film for digital download at the same time movies open in theaters cuts into their profits. For TWC, the gamble means a scramble — quickly coordinating marketing for the more expensive theatrical release and working with the online platforms and cable companies that had been expecting to deliver “It Follows” on the original date.

The debate over VOD dating has intensified within the industry recently as streaming has become more widespread, and theater chains have taken similar stands in situations involving “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “The Interview.”

“It Follows” will be in about 40 theaters across the country this weekend, according to a list of confirmed bookings on the film’s web site. Noticeably absent, however, are the largest chains, including Regal, Cinemark, AMC and Carmike.

Radius has had success with VOD releases of indie movies like “Snowpiercer” under its co-president Tom Quinn. But wide releases and major box office scores are uncharted territory for the unit, which was launched by TWC in 2012.

“Twenty Feet From Stardom” is its highest-grossing theatrical release with $4.9 million domestically and “Snowpiercer” took in $4.5 million — along with more than $8 million on VOD. It also distributed “Citizenfour,” which won Best Documentary at the Academy Awards last month.

“It Follows,” written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, has been attracting attention since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year. It’s a big hit with critics at 95 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes. Most call it genuinely scary and laud its thought-provoking plot, which involves teens pursued in excruciating fashion by a slogging, ominous presence after they’ve had sex.

Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto and Jake Weary star in the R-rated “It Follows,” which was produced with a budget under $2 million by Animal Kingdom, Northern Lights Films and Two Flints.

Watch the trailer below.

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