Thread: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot - Distribution strategy

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  1. #1 Jay and Silent Bob Reboot - Distribution strategy 
    Senior Member Zack Birlew's Avatar
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    Dec 2006
    California and Las Vegas
    Hi, everybody, I enjoyed a Fathom Events screening of "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot" last night which was a double feature with "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and it brought up some questions after learning that this was once again a four-wall distribution film for Kevin Smith. The whole thing was last minute for me as my brother was looking to see what movies were playing this weekend and he just happened to see "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot" playing in theatres this week so we got tickets right away. I was completely caught off guard as I didn't hear anything about the film's release other than the various Youtube videos about it being in production and coming soon. The key thing is that I never heard a date and there were no commercials on TV or even a poster in theatres leading up to the release of the film. Heck, there weren't even any Facebook and other social media posts about it from any of the various media outlets that I follow. Upon watching the pre-show segment detailing when the film would be playing again and about the tour for the film, I realized that it was going to basically be four-walled like "Red State" and "Tusk". So, my question is, after several movies in, are there any figures for how well this distribution strategy is working for Kevin Smith? Is it comparable to what a normal distribution run could do? Granted, this could have been and most likely was a completely independent effort by Kevin Smith but this was a star-studded affair featuring his most iconic character duo so I wonder why a major distributor wouldn't have snatched this up right away. With distribution apparently being shaken up with streaming and on demand options for the future, I can appreciate new strategies but it would be important to know what works and what doesn't going forward even if it is as things happen. Any insight or opinions?
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    I don't have any quantitative information about how this works for Kevin Smith. But I can offer a couple thoughts based on having worked in indie film distribution for some years.

    1) Kevin Smith has a deep following, but not necessarily broad support-- loyal fans who will show up, but he can't necessarily count on a broader group to respond to good reviews or buzz from film festivals, etc. So he probably has made the calculation that it's best for him to cut out the middle man (e.g. a distributor), since what they specialize in (positioning the film for and advertising to an audience, booking the theaters) is less likely to be money well spent for his specific case. He's probably just paying an extra person or two to take care of the bookings and promotion (or maybe using someone he already employs). And all that said, even though he does have an audience, I doubt any of the distributors would pony up a big advance for something like this.
    2) Most filmmakers who are not Kevin Smith can't really do this, because he was a very strong direct relationship with his audience on social media and in live events (e.g. "An Evening with Kevin Smith"). He also is something a of a known quantity to the theaters, which helps him book them at a reasonable rate (he might get a better buy-out price or cut of revenue) and then maybe actually collect on what they owe him. One thing distributors do is leverage their power to actually get their cut from the theaters (i.e. "if you don't pay up, you don't get the next hit we have").
    3) One risk to this way of working is that it probably reinforces his status as a niche/cult phenomenon-- does he gain new fans if he's not reaching out and cultivating new audiences? And how much business is he leaving on the table because potentially interested parties like you don't hear about it, with the barely-there advertising?
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