Saturday, March 7, 2009

How's It Doing? An Update on "Streaming" and MUST READ AFTER MY DEATH

Two weeks ago TrustMovies blogged about the unusual and disturbing documentary MUST READ AFTER MY DEATH -- and its even more unusual marketing approach: streaming across the country in a major way -- except in the two territories, NYC and Los Angeles, where it was opening theatrically.

Any new approach to marketing films, particularly independent and foreign flicks, is increasingly important as distribution venues -- from Warner Independent Pictures to (just two weeks ago) New Yorker Films -- close up shop. But it's not really enough to simply talk about a release that attempts something new, as I did, without following up to see how things panned out.

A decade or two ago, VARIETY reported individual theater grosses so we could quickly learn how well -- or badly -- any new movie was faring across the country in nearly every theatre in a major city. Due to declining budgets (hence, editorial space) this is no longer possible. Most of us were not connected to the Internet back then, nor did near-simultaneous alternate viewing possibilities -- on-demand, DVD release and streaming -- even exist. All this currently makes it more difficult to keep up with what is going on. So, following our original interview with Must Read's distributor Gigantic Releasing President, Mark Lipsky (shown below), it seemed necessary to do a follow-up.

The very day I first spoke with Lipsky, he was spending most of his time on the phone with entertainment editors across the country, trying to convince them to treat the streaming debut of Must Read as they would any new movie opening locally. To learn how the streaming campaign and theatrical release had fared, we contacted Mr. Lipsky for an update:

Trust Movies: First off, how did the streaming pan out?

Mark Lipsky: We’ve had a steady flow of online ticket purchases from all over the country since we opened on the 20th. They’re not "over" flowing, but it’s a very promising start. Regarding our media outreach we had unimaginable success convincing folks to cover the film based on its Feb. 20th ‘national’ release. The Washington Post was the one that got away, but so many outlets, both large and small, reviewed the film and provided the digital cinema information to their readers, listeners and viewers.

What about the theatrical venues in NY and LA? I understand that you had two good weeks at the Quad Cinema-- which is one week more than many documentaries that open here in NYC would manage.

We were the highest grossing film this past weekend at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in LA! Even though we did quite well at the Quad second week, the Oscar films on the other screens there are still doing well themselves and out-grossing us so we’re looking for a new home in NY for a third week in town. We're still in that process at the moment.

Subsequent to the above, I heard back from Mark with the following email message:

We’re coming off screen in NY after this Thursday which means that New Yorkers will be able to view the film online beginning Friday morning, March 6.


So, New Yorkers: If you had wanted to catch Must Read theatrically (it's eminently catch-worthy: check out the round-up of reviews from the David Hudson's IFC Daily blog), try streaming it now. Here's how:

Go to and buy a ticket for $2.99 via credit card or Pay Pal. (Your computer will have to have downloaded certain software, I believe, to make use of the latest streaming.) Then watch the movie. This purchase, Lipsky assures us, will get you three-day, unlimited viewing privileges -- commercial free and streamed at the highest possible quality.

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