In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros. has announced that the big screen debut of the much beloved Veronica Mars series will not only hit theaters on March 14th, but it will also be available to rent and download throughout the internet and on demand on the same day. While this has been a recent trend for smaller, independent films (see Margin Call, Only God Forgives, and Arbitrage), this marks the first time in history that a film from one of the major six studios will receive this kind of release, possibly setting a trend for future major releases if the strategy proves to be successful. However, this does beg the question: is Warner Bros so confident in the movie that they’re willing to experiment or do they have such little faith in the cult adaptation that they don’t want to give it a full release?
I personally believe it’s the former. While the film most likely won’t be a massive, international success, there is enough of a built in audience from the show and the Kickstarter that Warner’s probably knows that a special release could be profitable. Only time will tell whether the film will end up being appealing to audiences outside the already established fan base, but even if it doesn’t, Warner’s knows that the cult following fans of the show will purchase a ticket to the film in any shape or form. It also helps that Warner’s put little of their own money into the film, with the majority coming from the Kickstarter page that caused so much controversy last year. Because of this, Warner’s is most likely not too worried about how much the film is going to make, so rather than spend money to get the film in more theaters, Warner’s is being smart and giving the fans a direct line to the film as soon as possible, effectively cutting out the middle man. While you’ll still be able to see the film in theaters, Warner’s is making the film that much more accessible with this release strategy.
Who knows if this will end up being a smart move. This could just as likely be Warner Bro’s dumping a movie they’re wavering on, trying to get it out of the way as soon as possible. However, it’s more likely that Warner’s is legitimately trying something new. We’ll see if the gamble pays off on March 14th, but who knows – this could be the start of a new trend for cinematic releases.
Article by James Hausman