Tonight at the Sundance premier of Kevin Smith’s Red State, after weeks of hyping a public auction of distribution rights inside the theater immediately following the screening, with speculation floating around that the movie already had a deal lined up in advance, and criticism that it was all a big spin for the sake of publicity, Smith announced the big reveal himself: He’s not going to hand this film over to a distribution firm. Rather, he’s going to create a brand new branch of his own Smodcast network called Smodcast Pictures, and distribute the film without the help of a studio. This is a very, very big deal. Find out more about the story that allegedly sent Harvey Weinstein fuming out of the theater midway through the announcement, after the jump…
Smith made a big point of the fact that his life took the turn it did when he took a chance with Clerks at Sundance. He put his livelihood on the line, and it paid off in a major way. But the last few of his movies, which were released with the benefit of studio backing, still lost money because no matter how well they did in the box office, they had spent so much on marketing the films, they would never make a significant profit.
However, since he’s built up his own fan base over the last two decades, he now has the means to reach out to audiences on his own. The movie’s official release date will be October 19th, 2011 (the 17th anniversary of the theatrical release of Clerks). In the mean time, he’s going to take the film on a tour of the country to build word of mouth awareness, complete with live Q&A’s from himself and the film’s breakout star, Michael Parks. Who knows, he might even sing a song or two! The tour will start in New York, go to Chicago, Boston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Seattle, and Austin, to name a few. They will not make TV ads or theatrical trailers for the film, but rather rely on word of mouth and audience enthusiasm. “The fans are the ones who got us to make this film, and they’re going to be the ones who help us get it seen,” was the sentiment he expressed.
“Independent film has shown the world that we can make our own movies, but now we need to show them that we can release our own movies. True independence does not involve handing your work over to some jackass at the end of the day.” I think it’s safe to say that he’s burned more than a few bridges. But he’s also announced his retirement. His tenth and final film, Hit Somebody, will be released in 2012. “I will have made my movies, now I’ll help make your movies.” So at least if this fails, he doesn’t have to worry about it spoiling whatever remains of his career. However, if this experiment works, then he could rock the movie industry. Media has become so much more accessible, and everyone has talked about finding a new distribution model for years now. However, people seem to limit the scope of this discussion specifically to YouTube, which keeps the distribution on the internet. If Smith can prove that his podcast network has the ability to reach audiences and bring them to movie theaters, then he may be able to create a new model which will expose audiences to new filmmakers by cutting out the middlemen who have refused to grow with the times and technology. We will all keep our fingers crossed for Smith.
Check out Red State when it comes to a city near you!