NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For The Wolfpack, a documentary film about six brothers growing up in their odd and oppressive home in New York's Lower East Side, finding financial success may be as bewildering as the story itself.
Filmmakers and distributors have more options than ever for making back the investment on their projects -- but that doesn't ensure success.
The Wolfpack was developed over several years by its director Crystal Moselle, a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York, after meeting the subjects of her documentary walking the city's sidewalks. After earning a spot at this year's Sundance Film Festival and then winning its grand jury selection for best documentary, The Wolfpack's distribution rights were acquired over the winter by Magnolia Pictures, the New York-based film company known for titles including Alex Gibney's Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine and Blackfish.
The Wolfpack's distribution is slated to begin in selected national theaters beginning in mid-June. After its theatrical release, the plan calls for releasing the film to a video on-demand service.
Whether or not that will translate into financial reward remains a confounding question for a filmmaker such as Moselle, who bore the brunt of her project's production costs.
"There's not the biggest financial reward when making a documentary," Moselle said Saturday as her film was simultaneously screened on two warehouse rooftops in Brooklyn. "I financed the film for the first three years, and it took four and a half years to make."
Distributors like Magnolia Pictures usually purchase the rights to a film after it's already made, leaving the filmmakers to hope that they'll get their money back. Magnolia makes its money from licensing deals with theaters and online platforms.