Kevin Smith Reveals Self-Distribution & Road Show for 'Red State'
by Alex Billington
January 24, 2011
Last night was the world premiere of director Kevin Smith's new horror film Red State, which we thought was very good (Ethan's review) but it has sparked an endless amount of debate amongst critics and industry folk alike. It was an exciting evening inside Eccles Theater in Park City, as Smith had teased that he might auction off rights to the film during the Q&A afterward. But that didn't happen. Instead, he auctioned it off to himself for $20 and announced a massive plan to self-distribute the film with SModcast Pictures, part of his podcast empire, complete with a road show called the Red State U.S.A. Tour kicking off in spring.
When Smith took the stage following the screening, after showing off some of the humorous signs they made in opposition to the WBM protesters (see a few photos) he went on to deliver a nearly 20+ minute speech (available as a podcast later today) about the state of indie films, how he doesn't like the way marketing and distribution works nowadays, how indie distribution isn't dead but evolving, and how he figures it's best for him to handle the distribution of his film on his own. "Selling my film would be like having a baby and then selling it to somebody else to raise," Smith said candidly during the speech. "What we need to prove is that anyone can release a movie… Indie film isn't dead, it just grew up. It is just 'indie film 2.0' now. In indie film 2.0, we don't let them sell our movie, we sell our movie ourselves." Let's just hope this actually works.
So what are his release plans for Red State? Well, the horror movie will hit theaters on October 19th this fall. Smith said that he will not be doing any advertising or interviews, but will simply be making prints and making deals with art house movie theaters (he asked for any "smart exhibitors" to get in touch to partner with him for the release). How will he build buzz and sell tickets? Well, SModcast is taking Red State on the road "like they used to in the old days" and will be touring the US with the film at major venues, starting on March 5th at Radio City Music Hall. It's called the Red State U.S.A. Tour and you can find full city listings around the US and tickets details on their recently launched tour webpage: viewaskew.com/redstate/.
Smith's reasoning for and interest in self-distribution stems from the idea that he "just want[s] to tell fuckin' stories… [indie distribution nowadays is] too much fucking horseshit." He wanted to get back to his Clerks roots, which he sold at Sundance back in 1994. Red State was made for only $4 million and Smith plans to make back almost half of that during the road show tour, selling higher priced tickets (you'll get tons of swag plus a live Q&A) and selling Red State merchandise. He thinks it's crazy that studios spend upwards of $20 million on marketing, 4x the amount it cost to even make, so they're just trying to make back that budget.
For those that are Kevin Smith fans, this should be very exciting news, especially knowing that Red State is Smith's best film in years. But this announcement has caused quite a stir in the industry and amongst film journalists at Sundance, as they're still upset at his lack of an auction and really not sure if this will work at all. Some are predicting this is truly the end of Kevin Smith's career as we know it, but SlashFilm says he's not planning on directing anything else after his hockey movie Hit Somebody anyway. Honestly, more than anything, I'm curious to see if this works. In a day and age where everyone else is going online with VOD as the new model, I'm wondering if a self-distribution scheme like this can actually pay off, or if it's the Kevin Smith fanbase that will make this a success and nothing else (as in, other indies won't have the same luck).
Despite an otherwise successful premiere, this news is going to debated, discussed and argued about for the rest of the year, if not years to come. In the end, I'm happy to see Kevin Smith stand up for what he believes in and I'm looking forward to watching the tour and release unfold, and monitoring its success. How many are planning on seeing Red State? Do you think this kind of release will truly be successful?