It is also setting records with its on-demand sales, racking up $355,210 during the first two weeks of release. That establishes a new high-water mark for the indie distributor behind “Cartel Land” and “The Overnight.” It is currently only available for purchase, and won’t be available to rent until Sept. 27.
“Word-of-mouth has grown and grown over the summer to a significant level of noise,” said Paul Davidson, executive vice president of film and TV at the company. “It played all summer long.”
Indeed, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” which follows an older man and a younger boy who become the focus of a manhunt, is still playing in over 80 screens despite being available on home entertainment platforms. The Orchard acquired North American rights to the film for $1.5 millionafter it premiered last winter at Sundance.
Most indie companies don’t release their on-demand numbers, but the Orchard has been making its revenues public. Executives at the Orchard are arguing for more transparency in how films are performing on home entertainment platforms, and have previously released results for the likes of “The Overnight” and “Cartel Land,” among others.
The Orchard, a subsidiary of Sony Music, became much more active in film distribution about two years ago. So far, its box office results have been modest. Prior to “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” its highest-grossing theatrical release was “The Music of Strangers,” a documentary about cellist Yo-Yo Ma that made $1.2 million.
However, Davidson argues that 2016 marks a significant step forward for the company. The Orchard currently has the acclaimed documentary “Life Animated” in theaters and will release the Oscar-bait biopic “Neruda” by the end of the year.
“This year was a sea change with respect to investing more in the size of the movies and the scope of the releases,” said Davidson. “‘Hunt’ may be our biggest release, but it’s just the beginning.”
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