Kevin Smith Continues To Innovate: Offering VOD Before Theatrical Release… But Also Offering Incentives To Go To The Theater
from the and-that's-how-it's-done dept
We’ve been following, with great interest, entertainer Kevin Smith’s business model improvisations for quite some time now, including some of his podcasting and speaking efforts (beyond just being a filmmaker). We’ve also been interested in his attempt to go around the “traditional” movie marketing and distribution schemes with his latest flick, Red State. While many attacked or panned his plans to tour directly with the movie and then self-release it in theaters, that plan has made the movie profitable, even before the theatrical release. And, in the land of Hollywood accounting, where most movies — even the most “successful” are never “profitable,” that’s quite a feat.
The latest in this plan is that Smith has done a deal with Lionsgate for Video-on-Demand and DVD/Blu-ray distribution. From the beginning, he’d made it clear that he wanted to partner on those things, so this isn’t a huge surprise. Where it does get interesting is that the VOD plan will hit the market on Labor Day this September. That’s noteworthy, because the theatrical release doesn’t happen until October, over a month after the VOD release. And… as we’ve noted, theater owners are so clueless about what it is they really offer the public, that they’re absolutely spooked by any kind of non-theatrical release that doesn’t happen many months after the theatrical release, insisting that they just can’t compete.
So I would imagine that some theater owners who don’t bother to actually understand what’s going on will freak out about this as well (and potentially refuse to show Red State). However, as per usual, and very much in keeping with Smith’s standard way of operating, he’s put together a plan that gives people even more value for going to catch the flick in the theaters. Sure, you’ll be able to watch the movie at home via VOD, but he’s making sure that the theater experience includes a ton of scarce value as well:
Like let?s say Red State is showing at your local multiplex. But then right after the movie ends, a live, interactive Q&A with the filmmaker starts, beamed into the theater via satellite. Even if you?re not there in the room, you?re Tweeting questions from your theater and getting responses from the guy on the big screen. And then, after three hours of movie and interactive Q&A? Boom: LIVE PODCAST! That?s four hours of once-in-a-lifetime entertainment for less than $20: a movie, a show, then another show.
Oh, look at that. Not only is he connecting with fans, but he’s giving them a real, scarce reason to buy. He’s adding additional value to the theatrical performance so that people have more reasons to go out to that, even if they can access the VOD version at home. And, he seems pretty aware of how clueless the big theater chains are about these things, as he walks them through the basics here, step by step:
Now, before some old dick like ol? cranky Mr. ?GET OFF HOLLYWOOD?S LAWN!? tries to make a beef with me and theatrical exhibitors in their ongoing war with the studios over the shrinking theatrical window and premium VOD?s role in decreasing box office revenue, let me remind REGAL and AMC, CINEPLEX or any other theater chain that I?m not the enemy. Please don?t lump me in with people trying to take money out of your pockets, Exhibitors. This is a (not-so) new way to make money and fill your empty buildings when there isn?t a Transformer to save you. On a fucking Monday night, no less.
Want fresh eyes and asses in your theaters? Try a one-night-only screening of a movie, a Q&A, and a live podcast: all for under $20 a ticket. The positive feedback you?ll receive from your paying customers alone will be worth it, but the concessions loot you?ll rake in that night will make you richer than the pharaohs (my people like to eat snacks). And if I can make this work? That means anybody can make this work. And that means more people coming to your theaters. Jump into digital bed with us: there?s not enough money going around anymore to quibble over restrictions that shouldn?t apply to a specialized film in the first place. I can sell these events out and make you money without spending money to do so ? all while giving a normally slow night a massive shot in the arm. If not, no worries: there are lots of Mom & Pop single-screens out there who?ll welcome us warmly as well.
Of course, this is no different than what many of us have been saying for years, but Smith can back it up with paying customers, so maybe (just maybe?) one of those theater owners will take notice.