So the news broke from Sundance last night that Kevin Smith is distributing his new film, Red State, himself.
He had been telling everyone that he was going to auction distribution rights in public after the screening — and handed that over to his co-producer to officiate. As soon as bidding began, Smith bid twenty bucks, and the auction was closed. He’ll make deals with theaters himself, renting the space and pre-selling tickets. As Smith pointed out, with his 1.7 million Twitter followers and his Podcast audience, he’s been able to completely sell out venues (including Carnegie Hall in NYC) without spending a dime on traditional marketing.
The link to the site, above, features the current tour dates and a button that allows you to request a screening in your home town.
In the press release (also linked on the site), Smith says: “Don’t hate the studio; BECOME the studio. Anybody can make a movie; what we aim to prove is anyone can release a movie as well.”
Of course, the traditional media outlets are pretty dismissive of this whole thing. This, though, is one of the more balanced bits of coverage.
Most outlets are deciding to run with stories concentrating on smug “mixed reviews” for the film — but Neil Gaiman has said: “It’s the best thing he’s ever done. Left me shaken and grateful and wanting to make art.” I think I’ll trust Gaiman’s opinion, rather than conglomerate-fellatists like Drew McWeeney.
There’s no denying that Smith is able to do this because of his existing fame, built via the traditional model. But it’s a matter of scale — and it’s quite obvious that somebody without as much exposure could do the same thing on a smaller scale.
Publishing Houses, Film and Television Studios, Record Labels — they’re all relics of the last century.
Storm the gates.