reported this morning that Piranha 3DD made only $63,000 in its opening weekend--that's a drop of more than $3.5 million compared to the opening day for Piranha 3D back in 2010.
There are a lot of reasons for those numbers, not the least of which is that the film has far fewer screens exhibiting it, but one thing that could be playing into the film's anemic box office is that it's the first 3D film ever to be released to video-on-demand services on the same day as its theatrical opening. The practice is gaining more and more traction with smaller films, who wouldn't be exhibited on a lot of screens anyway and see the additional revenue in the opening weekend as a no-brainer. But 3D requires a different set of specifications and may not be available or "work" for everyone. Also, special effects films, especially summer releases, are still widely perceived as something you should see in the theaters.
With Snow White and the Huntsman opening this weekend and that movie, plus Men in Black 3 and even a few prints of The Avengers taking up most of the 3D screens in the U.S., the producers of Piranha 3DD decided that bringing the film into the homes of potential viewers might be their best chance to be seen.
The film--a low-budget sequel to a campy horror flick that didn't make a huge amount of money to begin with--was unlikely to set the box office on fire, but it's hard to guess whether the producers could have anticipated that the film would be likely to make more money on VOD this weekend than it did in theaters. Meanwhile, the level to which it's a success could very well determine the future of 3D on demand, as there are clearly not as many people with 3D televisions as without them, and so a stunt like this could very well test the waters and set a standard for how indie, 3D movies can perform on VOD. If it bombs, it may discourage studios from trying anything similar soon.