Sundance Film Festival starts this week and the hot topic is “hybrid deals” – making a deal to open your film in theaters and on VOD the same day.

Everyone wants to repeat the recent success of “Margin Call” (starring Kevin Spacey) which was made for $3.4 million, opened “day and date” taking in $5.3 million in domestic box office and $5 million in VOD.

The filmmakers behind “Margin Call” turned down deals with higher upfront advances and higher P&A, instead making a hybrid deal in the belief that an all-platforms at once release would reach the largest audience and make the most money. It did.

Sundance is expected to be the beginning of “hybrid deals” being an essential part of an independent film’s distribution deal, according to Variety.

Some will say these deals have been around for several years, with IFC and Magnolia both doing day and date releases. But the big difference, as the LA Times reports, is that those distribution plans had films playing in only half a dozen theaters as well as VOD. The big change, as we saw with “Margin Call” in October, was opening in 56 theaters and then expanding to 199 theaters. This is what makes the hybrid deal suddenly exciting for independents.

The result for distributors Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions was a domestic box office gross of $5.3 million along with a much higher than expected take of $5 million from VOD. Research indicates that people who purchased movie tickets were unaware it was available at home from their cable companies. One strong source of VOD sales came from hotels where business travelers watched the story of a Wall Street firm’s collapse during the 2008 financial crisis. It’s believed that the business traveler audience would never have gone to see “Margin Call” in a movie theater. Also Kevin Spacey was a good draw.

We’ll be tracking the hybrid deals as they are made at Sundance, looking to see how big and how fast this new trend is taking off.