Months after Kevin Smith announced his uncharacteristic self-distribution strategy for his equally uncharacteristic thriller “Red State” to a befuddled Sundance crowd, the movie has found a more conventional home.
In a lengthy blog post chronicling some of the opposition he has received to the movie and its release strategy, Smith announces that Lionsgate has picked up digital and TV rights for the movie, which means it will become available on VOD in early September, ahead of its planned October release (Smith’s SModcast Pictures has retained theatrical distribution rights in the U.S., with Phase 4 releasing the film in Canada.)
The announcement arrives on the heels of Smith’s national “Red State Tour,” an ambitious cross-country attempt to make back the movie’s $4 million production costs with special screenings of “Red State” in dozens of American cities. As we reported in April, “Red State” completed its tour at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theater with a cumulative takeaway of $851,832 from 15 screenings (although Smith claims the movie is in the black due to foreign sales).
Naturally, Smith doesn’t just get the word out about the Lionsgate deal without a little color. In addition to noting the Lionsgate news, Smith’s emphatic post, which runs nearly 4,000 words, contains a lot of emphatic boasting about the success of his DIY distribution efforts:
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Removing art or show from the equation for a moment, opinions vary as to whether I’m a good director or not, but you’ve gotta agree I’m a good business man: I always keep production costs low and I have the confidence in what I make to accompany my product into the marketplace, selling without incurring the usual ridiculous marketing expenses. Theatrical release is where the costs have always bogged my shit down – and it was always the only cost not under my control. We made “Red State” for $4 million, but we’d have to spend minimum $10 million on P&A if we went the traditional theatrical route. You can’t release a film in a vacuum or else folks won’t know it’s there…My theory was that we had audience enough to cut the ropes, drop the sails, and make for the new world – a world that made use of social media and long-tails. A world where the marketing costs were less than the cost to produce the art itself. Krypton was dying; and I love my art like I love my child, so I threw my art into a rocket on that stage and sent it anywhere else, other than the dying world of traditional theatrical distribution.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether “Red State” faces a vacuum this September when it hits the VOD market. Rest assured, however, that Smith will have something to say about it.