‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ Flop Shouldn’t End Early VOD Experiments

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” represented a bold distribution experiment and an unprecedented alliance between a major studio and a handful of exhibitors.

By cutting theater chains in on digital revenues, Paramount, the studio behind the horror franchise, was allowed to release the film online 17 days after it left most screens. It could have revolutionized the movie business, offering up a new model for the way that Hollywood releases its more modestly budgeted offerings for mass consumption. Unfortunately, it was a gambit that failed to pay off.

Resistance from three of the country’s four biggest chains limited the film’s theatrical footprint. It opened to just $8.2 million on 1,656 screens, roughly 1,000 fewer locations than the previous film in the horror series. That was the worst kick-off in the franchise’s six-film history and significantly below tracking that suggested it might open to $20 million if it had more screens.

“My gut reaction was it probably wasn’t worth it to alienate theater owners,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “But the franchise was dying so it probably seemed like a good idea to try to change things up.”

The bad blood that erupted may make other studios leery of trying to mess around with distribution models. In 2011, Universal was eager to see if they could get customers to part with $60 to watch “Tower Heist” in their homes three weeks after the comedy hit theaters. Exhibitors went ballistic, however, threatening to boycott the film. Universal ultimately shelved the plan and hasn’t attempted anything similar in years…

Catch the rest of this article from Variety.