45 Years becomes first £1m day-and-date film in UK
James R | On 10, Sep 2015
45 Years has become the first day-and-date release to earn more than £1 million at the UK box office.
Andrew Haigh’s powerful drama, which stars Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, was released in UK cinemas and on VOD platforms on Friday 28th August. The decision by distributors Artificial Eye may sound like a strange one, given the movie’s awards success at the Berlin International Film Festival this year, but it is par for the course for them: Artificial Eye is part of Curzon Film World, who operate not only the Curzon chain of cinemas but also the Curzon Home Cinema VOD service, a position that allows them to release titles any which way they choose, regardless of traditional release windows that are hurdles to other companies.
In the US, for example, where smaller distributors have made a name for their simultaneous theatrical and VOD release strategy, Netflix is aiming to do the same, with Beasts of No Nation arriving on the SVOD service globally in October on the same day it hits US cinemas. A Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel will follow suit next year. But exhibitors have boycotted the titles because the digital release is infringing on their potential takings during the traditional theatrical window.
In the UK, Curzon has helped to boost the reputation of video on-demand, with its line-up of awards contenders, acclaimed international titles and star-studded indie flicks. What might have once been dismissed as a platform for genre titles by some has emerged as a showcase for quality films, such as Beyond the Lights, Jodorowsky’s Dune and The Spectacular Now. 45 Years, which was funded by the BFI Film Fund, Film4 and Creative England, is expected to put on a strong campaign come BAFTA season, including acting, script and directing categories.
Larger distributors have begun to toy with day-and-dating, with the Veronica Mars movie adopting the tactic, hoping to benefit from a strong home audience familiar with the TV show. But for Curzon, the practice is routine: 45 Years’ success at the cinema box office, despite its availability in your living room, is proof that digital and theatrical distribution do not cannibalise each other.
Director Andrew Haigh told us in an interview that VOD is “absolutely essential” for independent film-making.
“It feels to me that you see what art house films make in the cinema and most of them make absolutely nothing and it’s really sad, because some of them are good films and people just aren’t going to the cinema to see them,” he added. “And it’s because cinemas are expensive and you’re probably only going to see two things a month, if you’re lucky, and you’re probably going to go and see Jurassic World. And so how do people get to see interesting work? As a filmmaker, you want to see it on the big screen and you want the audience to see it on a big screen… but I also understand that you’ve got to get people to watch it.”
The movie crossed the £1 million mark on Wednesday night, Screen International revealed, following a strong £309,000 taken from cinemas in its opening weekend. With 13 days under its belt in cinemas, the movie is on the way to top £1.5 million overall – double the previous record set by a day-and-dater, the Dardennes’ Two Days, One Night, which earned £720,000 in its total theatrical lifetime, according to Screen. It was also an Artificial Eye title.
The movie opened on 67 screens last month and, thanks to its strong performance on the big screen, will expand to more than 100 this weekend. With larger multiplexes refusing to show the film due to the “broken” theatrical window, that makes 45 Years the widest-released day-and-date film in the UK ever. Screen International highlights Curzon Richmond as a particularly strong performer.
Online records also broken
The film also broke records on Curzon Home Cinema, VODzilla.co can reveal, although Curzon has not confirmed the exact number of online sales.
Phil Mordecai, director of Curzon Home Cinema, described the release as a “game-changing result” for the streaming platform.
“We’re extremely pleased with how 45 Years has performed,” he told VODzilla.co. “The release has shown very clearly that new distribution models in the UK are turning a corner. The film opened to Curzon Artificial Eye’s largest opening Day and Date number of locations nationwide and has generated new records on Curzon Home Cinema. The theatrical B.O. results have already surpassing the £1 million milestone and beyond.”
The film can be watched on blinkbox, Vubiquity’s suite of white label services (including Virgin Movies, EE, TalkTalk, Eircom), Wuaki.tv and Google Play. VODzilla.co understands, though, that a large portion of the digital takings have been through Curzon Home Cinema, with films aimed at an older audience tending to perform more strongly on the chain’s in-hour platform than titles with a broader appeal.
You can read our full review of 45 Years here.