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Video on demand gives ‘Snowpiercer’ cult success in U.S.

Without much promotional backing, 'Snowpiercer' has done surprisingly well. 


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Posted on Jul 30, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 8:57 pm CDT

If you’ve heard much about Snowpiercer, you’ve probably know film fans are miffed about its weirdly limited cinema release. 

Despite performing well in South Korea, Japan and across Europe, Snowpiercer’s U.S. distributor, the Weinstein Company, was convinced that it needed some radical editing to make it palatable to American audiences. The film’s director balked, critics started writing furious defenses of the original cut (not to mention giving it a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes), and eventually Snowpiercer got a limited release in U.S. theatres.

The film achieved blockbuster success overseas and stars Captain America’s Chris Evans in the lead role, but Snowpiercer has become more like a cult indie hit among U.S. audiences. One of the reasons for that is on-demand streaming services.

In an unusual move, the Weinstein Company decided to release Snowpiercer on VOD while the film was still showing in cinemas. And after just two weeks, it’s made an impressive $3.8 million

This is a pretty big haul for a film that never really received the publicity it deserved. But this VOD success is likely to be a tiny fraction of what Snowpiercer might have made if the Weinsteins had bothered to promote it to American audiences. 

Generally, a simultaneous theatrical and VOD release is a bad sign, indicating that the studio doesn’t expect audiences to pay for theater tickets. In this case, the word-of-mouth buzz for Snowpiercer is the most likely explanation for its impressive performance on VOD: People heard it was a good movie, but couldn’t find it at their local multiplex.

The film made more than $81 million overseas, but with it’s comparatively tiny U.S. release, it seems that Snowpiercer is still retaining its arthouse underdog status.

Photo via snowpiercer-film

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*First Published: Jul 30, 2014, 11:37 am CDT