Well you gotta give Kevin Smith credit for taking a risk and trying something new for his latest movie Red State. Not only is he tackling the horror genre for the very first time in his career, but he’s attempting to rewrite the rules on how movies are produced and distributed in Hollywood. By using his podcast network to promote the film and by taking it around the U.S. as a touring roadshow prior to its theatrical release, he is bringing it directly to his biggest fans first. And apparently by doing so he has already been able to make his money back. Last week at the National Association of Broadcasters show, Smith announced that Red State’s ticket sales have officially surpassed the film’s budget, and from here on in, the rest will be profit. Is the indie revolution upon us?
Smith supposedly invested $4 million in the production of the film through his new company SMODcast Pictures, and now, 15 cities later, six months before the film’s official theatrical release, it is already “in the black.” In its opening weekend at Radio City Music Hall in March, it earned the tenth-highest weekend per theater average, taking in more than $161,000 right off the bat, followed by another $42,000 in Boston that same weekend. Of course, the $4 million budget probably doesn’t take into account the additional cost of actually taking the movie on the road, but then again, most studio productions don’t usually report marketing and distribution costs as part of the budget either.
So does this news mean that the future is bright for independently funded films? Not necessarily. Kevin Smith is not your average indie director. He has been making movies for over 15 years, and he has built up a brand around himself. There aren’t many A-list directors who can claim to have a dedicated fanbase on the same level as Smith, or who could charge $50-$100 for a movie screening and Q&A. Still, it’s nice to hear that Smith’s gamble has paid off, and it will be interesting to see what happens when it hits theatres in October. Will it prove to be another indie smash hit like Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project?