08 May Distribution Phase 2
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about our upcoming theatrical premiere for Who Took Johnny, and explained why were taking the distribution path that we were. We opened it in Des Moines because there were a couple of things we needed in order to legitimize the film; press and audience. We got them both in spades. Just before the film opened we got a rave review in The Hollywood Reporter. In Des Moines we got a number of very positive views, an amazing radio piece, and several TV pieces. Those combined press hits led to a storm of theatergoers. Over our two week run in Des Moines 1975 people showed up to see it. Those would be good number in LA or NY; in Des Moines they are off the chart. So phase 1 of our plan worked like a charm.
Now we are entering phase 2, our roll out to other theaters. Here we are hitting some snags. First, we didn’t have a lot of lead-time, from when our Des Moines booking was confirmed, until it happened. This limited our ability to get spots in other theaters as they often book several months in advance. I had contacted half a dozen other Midwest theaters, and while a couple expressed interest, none confirmed a date. We knew that there would be some waiting around to see how it did. This was also the case with Battle for Brooklyn. We face a similar hurdle with this film in that it is easy to perceive it as “local” story, which is why people think it did well in the local theater. It’s hard for them to understand that its a good film.
However, as neither film was fully embraced by the film festival circuit, nor distributors, it has been nearly impossible for us to get reviews of Who Took Johnny. When it doesn’t get reviewed, people in the film world assume it can’t be that good, so the can’t be bothered to watch it. We are having to perpetually jump over the gate keepers to get our work seen.
This afternoon we had a call with a company called tugg.com. They are kind of kickstarter model of distribution. You set up events and enough people pre-buy tickets the event takes place and the people get charged. If we can get some national press for the film, this might be a great way for us to get the film in dozens of cities.
When the film closed in Des Moines many people asked where they could see it online. The reason we haven’t put it on DVD or VOD yet is because if it’s available in that way no theater will show it. If its not in theaters then no one will write about it. If no one writes about it no one will know about it when it is on DVD or VOD. It’s a catch 22 that we are trying to get past by putting it in theaters. We’re just gonna keep on trying till we get up that hill.