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?
Reader Feedback - 10 Comments
This is a brilliant and classy move by Smith to adapt to the future of indie film. I hope other studios take note.
peloquin on Jan 24, 2011
So.. this means it will not be realesed in Europe etc?
Ryderup on Jan 24, 2011
This will be released in Europe in October with the wide opening I guess.
gammler on Jan 25, 2011
My guesstimation an early 2012 release in Europe/Skandinavia? Who knows, maybe Kevin will come over the pod for us? 🙂
David Banner on Jan 24, 2011
I think its really only because he knew no one would really be interested in buying it anyway. (If it was that exceptional or at least profitable he still would have had offers, even after the auction stunt) That being said, the idea of a road show in todays day and age is really exciting and brilliant, even if its for a film I have extreme reservations for. I always wondered why they stopped doing it.
Anonymous on Jan 24, 2011
Successful is a big word, but this way of doing it is at least way more entertaining. I admire his passion for this project, and the risk he is taking is inspiring. Will this be successful? I think it will, for three reasons: His fan-base, low-budget and the free publicity it will be getting by doing it this way. I think with the digital distribution options these days it will be a lot less hassle than back in the day to release it independently. VOD (video on demand) will also make it way easier to make money. I will follow this project very closely.
Rick on Jan 24, 2011
Everybody misses the real news!!! Kevin Smith is going to start distributing fan-made films!!!! That should be headline news!!!! http://wp.me/p1gK9Y-er
Leo Ponce on Jan 25, 2011
Did Smith upload the Sundance podcast yet?
Gregpomes on Jan 25, 2011
Kind of sucks that the cheapest saet is close to $80
Mrbazooko on Feb 16, 2011
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