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Is VOD the Future? Even Roadside Attractions’ Howard Cohen Defends Theatrical Windows, at Produced By Conference

Roadside has released two of the most successful VOD movies — "Margin Call" and "Arbitrage," both at the same time as they hit theaters

Roadside Attractions released two of the most successful movies to open on VOD at the same time as in theaters – “Margin Call” and “Arbitrage” – but Roadside co-founder Howard Cohen defended studios and distributors who enforce a window between theatrical and home release.

Cohen sought to distance his company from its label as a champion of VOD at the Produced by Conference on Saturday, pointing out that his entire staff of 18 is dedicated to theatrical.

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“We’re very focused on keeping the theatrical window alive,” Cohen said.

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Cohen’s comments came in response to producer Bill Block‘s ("District 9") assertion that the future lay in watching movies at home.

“Windowing has to end,” Block said, noting that the future of indie film is with companies like Roadside.

Block earlier polled the audience to see who had seen “Disconnect,” Henry Alex Rubin's 2012 thriller. Just a smattering of people raised their hands, prompting Block to say that people just didn’t go to the movies anymore.

Cassian Elwes, who sold “Margin Call” to Cohen, said he actually sold him the movie because he believed he'd get a theatrical release.

“The irony about the VOD thing is the reason I sold ‘Margin Call’ to Howard is he was saying he might not send it off to VOD on the same day,” Elwes said. “I had the same offer from someone else who said they would.”

Previous movies released on VOD day-and-date had failed, which made the actors in the movie reluctant to promote it.

The movie went on to gross $13 million in theaters. 

The cast "only tried to jump on the bandwagon when the movie was successful," Elwes said. "Then it was too late."