This post is really a fraction of a longer story (which, in true blogosphere tradition I may never write). The basic thought is that movies rely on building anticipation and getting a pop in the first two weeks to satisfy their investment (or investors). The pop is important as it minimizes risk - or rather, it is highly informative as an indicator of getting a return and how big that return is going to be.
What could disrupt that model is: less marketing, fewer screens but longer runs. This would challenge a key element of the pop model in that some percentage of viewers are there because of an information asymmetry - the information that is hidden is essentially the quality of the movie. Longer runs could only be achieved by better quality.
Below is a graph of two recent sleepers (ok, the first - The Illusionist - is a true sleeper whereas the second - The Painted Veil - might be a sleeper). I've also graphed the discussion around the dvd for The Illusionist as it comes to market today. I suspect that discussion around a dvd while a movie is still at the cinema is potentially an indicator of reaction to the movie as it may capture individuals' intending to buy the dvd after seeing the film.
As a final thought. Discussion about hits and the coming or going of the hit often mistake the pop for a hit. In addition, they also mistake specific channels and metrics on those channels as the indicators of a hit. To me, a hit is something that is widely popular regardless of when or how it is consumed. Marketing can force a hit, or even suppress one if it aims for a pop.