People (like me) have been banging on for years about how the internet presents new distribution opportunities for film and TV and it was clear at TIFF this year that things are finally starting to happen.
Companies like Magnolia in New York (the distributor for our film) are pioneering new digital only, or predominantly digital release strategies. Magnolia is credited with developing the premium VOD (video on demand) model into a serious new release distribution strategy. Traditionally VOD has been used at about the 3rd stage of a release strategy (after theatrical and DVD and before pay TV). Premium VOD is a pricier form of VOD (in the US you pay $10 as opposed to around $4 for standard VOD) that is used as the first stage of release. This may be in lieu of a theatrical release, at the same time as theatrical, or even before.
There was a lot of talk at TIFF about Bacholerette, a film with a very modest budget, that elected to go with premium VOD as the first platform of its release strategy. As well as taking $500,000 in 3 days, it reached no.1 on iTunes, all of which served as great promotion for its theatrical release.
So non-traditional release strategies utilising digital media are all of a sudden starting to be taken very seriously by sales agents and distributors, and a number of serious players in that space are starting to appear. The traditional model is being turned inside out in an increasing number of cases, and release strategies with no theatrical release (which can incorporate “four walling” where the distributor rents cinema space themselves - usually where theatrical play is required for festival compliance), or “day and date” releases (where all platforms are hit at the same time) are becoming more common.