Why Walmart Is Good for Indie Films27 Mar, 2014 By: Seb Marciano, Revolver Entertainment
I started Revolver Entertainment in 2007 as an all-rights film distribution company with a view to exploit films that were acquired through Revolver U.K. Our sister company, Revolver U.K., sadly ceased trading a year ago. Thankfully that collapse has had no impact on the U.S. side of our business. Now that our sister company in London is no longer acquiring content, I have a new vision for the future of the company moving forward, and that involves acquiring our own content with films that connect strongly with audiences.
When one thinks of Walmart, one generally associates it with power, a symbol of corporate America and the true enemy of small business. Sources suggest employees numbering in the millions and assets in the hundreds of billions. Walmart has more purchasing power and wealth than many individual countries. So you would think that the only films that could succeed at Walmart are films made by corporations, the Sony Pictures and the Warner Bros. of the world who spend money like it’s going out of style. However, Walmart is quietly becoming one of the reasons indie film is flourishing right now.
As film distributors who relied on the formerly booming DVD market continue to go out of business, many commenting on the industry have championed VOD as the new forum for indie film. What many film distributors do not realize is that Walmart represents one of the few remaining opportunities to capitalize on DVD sales. With thousands of locations across the United States and Canada, if Walmart takes just a few DVDs in each store, they are already placing five-figure or six-figure unit orders in an age when some films are not even released on DVD.
Revolver Entertainment, a film distributor located in Los Angeles, prides itself on acquiring a diverse array of films, some of which are specifically tailored to Walmart’s customers. For example, Revolver released Dragon Knight, a French-language medieval action film from 2003 dubbed into English. It became our most successful title of the year thanks to blistering sales at Walmart. With “Game of Thrones” taking America by storm, this genre is as popular as ever. As the film performed above expectations week in and week out, Revolver meanwhile saw only modest sales on its digital platforms.
For a while, Revolver considered removing its DVD business entirely, but with its newfound success selling DVDs at Walmart, it seems like there are no signs of stopping when it comes to DVD. It just goes to show that when it comes to independent film distribution, you never know which platform is going to benefit a film the most. So you have to try them all.
Revolver also wants to work with exciting visionary directors, offering recent releases such as the BBC’s Hunt vs Lauda, Sir Kenneth Brannagh’s The Magic Flute, Ron Scalpello’s Offender and Sean Stone’s The Asylum Tapes.
Seb Marciano is president of Revolver Entertainment