Kevin Smith’s Red State is Already Profitable

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?

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  • Juan

    I cant wait to see Red State, I’ve heard great things about it and Tarantino really liked it! Since i live outside the US, I guess i’ll see it on DVD or torrent. Kevin Smith has a lot of balls in taking Red State to the road.

  • rob

    the “success” would be very hard to replicate by anyone else.
    werent they selling props and stuff at the shows too? or is this profit from the selling of tickets? and how much could taking it on the road really cost? he wont have spent much/any money on advertising yet, and the price of renting the venue will be almost instantly paid off by those ticket prices!!

    P.S. He still needs to learn how to take criticism!

  • Jon Rocks

    Anyone who has followed his career after the failure of “Zack and Miri” realize that Smith is not the same guy. He lost it for a bit after that release, and now he is a very insulated, bitter guy. He claims that he is doing all of this because it’s what he wants to do… but I’ve never bought that. I can’t even listen to Smodcast anymore because of his annoying stoner giggle.

    However, I am interested to see “Red State.”

  • I’m not that impressed. I’m more impressed with James Wan’s Insidious, all the editing and animation was done on a MAC. The film was made for 1.5 million including marketing, and has already made more than 30 million. On top of all that its actually an awesome film.

  • I read the whole “Tarantino screening blog post” K. Smith wrote where he announced this. First, I respect Kevin’s hustle – he has literally made a cottage industry out of himself. He is a classic entrepreneur because the way he writes up the Tarantino blog you almost feel it is genuine, almost.. It is a sly and well crafted marketing endorsement, well done Mr. Smith. He gives out the Tarantino seal of approval in a very self effacing way, in a blog post that is sure to get a lot of pub.

    It worked, Red State is now on my radar.

    I think the most interesting part of this story is the potential for Smith to use the same touring concept for a series of films by others that he attaches his name to, i.e., will the savvy Smith make an even more profitable event for himself?

  • wow, you left out some key facts Sean. Red State is in the black due to Smith securing key foreign and domestic (non theatrical) distribution already. need to edit your write up

  • Where did you read this Rus? I don’t see it in the article that I linked to.

  • rob

    could you link to the info on the foreign distribution rus?

  • Anthony

    “or who could charge $50-$100 for a movie screening and Q&A”

    Yeah, this here is why I’m not all that impressed with the numbers since he’s charging so goddamn much for a ticket (which makes sense since they’re followed by a Q&A, which can be pretty fun). I’d be interested in seeing an adjusted figure of how much money it made by taking the average price of a movie ticket and just multiplying that by how many people saw it.

  • Tim

    Thought it was a picture of Greg.

  • go to the man himself: (he talks about it at the end of blog)

  • Mike

    HEY! it’s our holiday today, leave our stoner giggles alone!

  • Brendan

    A lot of direct-to-DVD movies have been profitable too. Keep the budget low and it’s bound to make a profit.

  • Brendan

    I should have said keep the budget low AND market it to a specific demographic and it’s bound to be profitable.

  • go to the man himself: (he talks about it at the end of blog)

    “Over the course of the 15 shows of the Red State USA Tour, we made almost one million dollars from ticket and merchandise sales. A few times, we had the highest per screen average in the country. We started out with a record-making show at Radio City Music Hall and went on to average 1100 people per screening. Had we booked ourselves into smaller houses, we could’ve SOLD OUT every show; but being in the larger houses cost us nothing extra.

    And apparently, we managed to pull 1100 a night solely from our podcasts: when asked nightly if they heard about the show from a show at, an overwhelming 85/90% of the audience indicated yes (Jon swears it was 100% in Seattle). That bodes well for SIR.

    You take what we made on the tour, you add that to the $1.5mil we’ve pulled in from foreign sales thus far (with a few big territories yet to sell). Add to that $3mil we’re on the verge of closing for all North American distribution rights excluding theatrical (which means VOD/HomeVideo/PayTV/Streaming).”

  • the more I think about this, the more I realize it is a non story, or better, a story about how one filmmaker found a way to use his most valuable asset, his celebrity, to capture more of the film profits.

    all he has done is change the way you entice distribution companies to bid on your film. I don’t think this changes his previously stated goal of “sticking it to the critics” since they will still review the film prior to wide release. In a way he has just used his film as “product” for his speaking tour – he needs product to justify higher ticket prices. (i.e. Charlie Sheen has no product and has been booed off stage)

    Again, I’m not judging him, he’s a hustler, good for him. Just wanted to inject my opinion about what’s really going on.