In our June issue, we profiled the Alberta investors who helped make Kevin Smith's controversial horror film, Red State, a reality.
Now, the movie is coming to Edmonton, as part of a five city Canadian tour promoted by Phase 4 studio. Phase 4 acquired the Canadian rights to Red State in May. It plays the Garneau on Aug. 16.
But will you pay between $50 and $85 to see it, knowing that you will get the chance to see it later, whether it's in a traditional movie theatre or on DVD or through the Internet? Those who pay $70 to $85 (the top two ticket options) also get a DVD of the film. Smith himself will come along for a question and answer.
More importantly is that Edmonton becomes part of Smith and producer Jon Gordon's massive experiment; will movie fans pay a premium to see the film solely on the feeling they are helping create a new funding model for the film business?
I covered the story for Avenue at Sundance. I was in the crowd at the Rice-Eccles Theater in Park City, Utah, as Smith launched into what became a multi-pronged attack on the traditional movie industry. Smith said he would tour with the film, trying to raise enough money through these one-off shows to support the distribution of Red State on a large scale. And I can honestly tell you that the reaction in the theatre was definitely, well, uncomfortable. There were movie execs who had gone to see and possibly bid on the film, and felt fooled by the whole process of Smith's mock auction, where he sold the rights to himself.
Of course that was the reaction Smith wanted. But it's worth noting that, if you have a look at the IMDB.com page on Hit Somebody, Smith's next movie, the cast is almost identical to the one that worked on Red State.
Smith, though, is playing with house money. The budget to shoot Red State came from private investors, much of it from Edmonton's Nhaelan McMillan and his partner in the concert promoter Union Events Ltd., Calgary's Harvey Cohen. Calgary club owner Victor Choy and Shopster.com's Sarath Samarasekera also invested. It's their money on the line. So, when Smith says "my film," which he did over and over again at Sundance, he's stretching things a bit. It's his script, his vision, but he needed his people to make it happen.
Even with Smith as a celebrity guest, even with the DVD add-on, $85 is a heck of a lot of money. I'll be interested to see who comes out.
I am hoping Westboro Baptist Church, the fundamentalists who protested the film (which sees a religious cult turn into a hate-crime ring), come out. It would make the screening a little more of an adrenalin rush. And, controversy sells tickets, don't cha know?