Chris Evans is having a very good 2014. Not only is his Marvel movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier the most successful movie of the year in terms of U.S. box office, but another of his releases—the indie sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer—is marking a cinematic milestone with its video-on-demand release financially keeping pace with its simultaneous theatrical run.

Variety reports that the movie, directed by Bong Joon-ho, made $3.8 million in its first two weeks of VOD release, compared with $3.9 million from five weeks in theaters.

While $3.8 million is hardly going to mean much compared to the average summer blockbuster—The Winter Soldier took in more than 30 times that amount on its opening weekend alone—the VOD success of Snowpiercer points to a potential new avenue for smaller genre movies to not only find an audience, but also make money doing it.

As Bloomberg Businessweek points out, the VOD release strategy may have been born out of a lack of funds for a wide theater release (it would have cost around $25 million to market the movie in that manner, the Bloomberg piece suggests, compared with the $5 million the studio actually spent on the movie's marketing), but it nevertheless turned into a winning strategy.

Part of that comes down to the economics of each platform; as co-president of Radius-TWC—the studio responsible for Snowpiercer—Tom Quinn told Entertainment Weekly, "that [VOD] gross is actually worth almost double to me in terms of how it nets out in our bottom line." Additionally, whatever money is spent promoting the movie has a larger, and more long-term, reach with VOD available to 85 million homes in the U.S. on an ongoing basis versus a limited-run release in the circa 40,000 movie screens across the country.

Given both these kinds of numbers, and the scale of Snowpiercer's success, it may finally be time for the independent movie industry to move past the stigma of skipping theaters in favor of home release. "We believe in these movies as theatrical propositions, but the reality is, people can't always get a baby-sitter, or they're too busy to leave their homes," Quinn told Variety, adding that "because of VOD first-window exploitation, more times than not our films have entered into profitability."

With blockbusters increasingly crowding out smaller fare from theaters, isn't this exactly the direction independent movies should head in to survive?