Abduction (Lionsgate UK): A thriller about a young man (Taylor Lautner) who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website. Directed by John Singleton, it co-stars Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, and Jason Isaacs. [Nationwide / 12A]
The Debt (Universal): In 1965, a group of Mossad agents (Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain) on a mission to kill a Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later, one of the agents (Helen Mirren) learns that the Nazi may have resurfaced in the Ukraine. Directed by John Madden, it co-stars Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson. [Nationwide / 15]
What’s Your Number? (20th Century Fox): Comedy about a woman (Anna Faris) who looks back at the past twenty men she’s had relationships with and wonders if one of them might be her one true love. Directed by Mark Mylod and co-starring Chris Evans, Matthew Bomer and Zachary Quinto. [Nationwide / 15]
Shark Night 3D (Entertainment Films): Horror about people on holiday in the Louisiana Gulf who are terrorised by fresh-water shark attacks. Directed by Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin, it stars Sara Paxton, Alyssa Diaz, David R. Ellis and Chris Carmack [Nationwide / 15]
Melancholia (Artificial Eye): Two sisters (Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg) find their relationship challenged as a nearby planet threatens to collide into the Earth. Directed by Lars Von Trier, it co-stars Kiefer Sutherland and John Hurt. [Selected cinemas / 15]
Red State (E1 Films): Director Kevin Smith’s latest film, which is a dark departure for him. Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter some sinister fundamentalists. Stars Melissa Leo, John Goodman and Matthew-Lee Erlbach. [Selected cinemas / 18]
The Green Wave (Dogwoof): Documentary by Ali Samadi Ahadi that follows the Iranian green movement during the disputed re-election of Mahmud Ahmadinejad in June 2009. [Selected cinemas]
Red White and Blue (Trinity Filmed Entertainment): Revenge thriller about a woman in Austin, who comes across two mysterious people. Directed by Simon Rumley, it stars Amanda Fuller, Noah Taylor and Marc Senter. [Selected cinemas / 18]
The build up to the premiere was cleverly stoked by Smith himself who has an army of fans online who follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
The festival guide described the plot of Red State:
“Three horny high school boys come across an online personal ad from an older woman looking for a gang bang, and boys being boys, they hit the road to satisfy their libidinal urges. What begins as a fantasy, however, takes a dark turn as they come face-to-face with a terrifying fundamentalist “holy” force with a fatal agenda”
Shot last summer, Smith announced that it would screen out of competition at Sundance and over the last couple of months he has released teaser posters and built up buzz for the film via his Twitter account (@thatkevinsmith).
The build up was marked by protests against the film as one of the villians is loosely based on a stern, religious figure along the lines of Fred Phelps.
Then Smith and other festival-goers protested against the protests, although was this hype staged?
Smith denied rumours that the film had already been pre-sold to a distributor by tweeting the following:
Via @CAmcKy “the media says ur full of s— and have sold RedState already and ur just being a showman” Who you gonna believe: me or them? The “full of s—” part is opinion, so it doesn’t matter. But the “already sold” part? 100% untrue. For those of you not just tuning in to the story, you guys can vouch that I’ve done everything I said I was gonna do thus far, correct? So why lie now? Folks can tell themselves whatever they want if it makes ’em feel better about watching the Jets. Honestly: I understand team passion. If you’re on the fence about seeing RedState or watching the game, I understand completely. No worries, no offense. But I promise you: though we’ve heard a few sight-unseen preemptive bids, THIS MOVIE HAS NOT ALREADY BEEN SOLD. After the screening, THEN we’ll pick the distributor.
Buzz was further fuelled by a mostly sceptical batch of film writers who seemed both repelled and excited by the P.T. Barnum-style event the screening had become.
Dave Chen of /Film posted this AudioBoo as he headed into the screening:
The situation was a win-win for Smith: whatever people thought of the film, he had got awareness, publicity and created one of the hot tickets at Sundance.
After the screening was over the director revealed to a packed Eccles Theatre that the expected ‘auction’ was little more than a gag, as he brought up the film’s producer, Jonathan Gordon, to the stage to open the bidding and after Smith offered $20, it was proclaimed ‘sold’.
The stunt was there to highlight his actual plans to bypass the traditional model of distribution, with its traditional costs of marketing and prints.
Smith will essentially distribute the film himself, taking it on a nationwide tour that begins on March 5th, before self releasing it in cinemas on October 19th
He clearly feels that he can at least break even with his loyal nationwide fan base:
“It’s indie film 2.0 and in indie film 2.0 we sell our films ourselves”
Reactions so far from critics have been mixed, with some praising Smith for doing something different whilst others were not so hot on the film.
Here are some reactions:
“I would say this is the best film he’s made since Chasing Amy. In this film, Smith has become something more than a comedy director — he shows real skill presenting action sequences which are both thrilling and well shot” – Peter Sciretta of /Film
“Messy, overwritten, visually stylish, but kind of a bore. More like Kevin Smith than it looks because nobody ever stops talking” – Katey Rich of Cinema Blend
“It’s nice to contemplate how Kevin Smith wants to make films that aren’t comedies. Too bad he tried to make all of them at once”. – James Rocchi
My guess is that Smith is going to find it tough making a financial success out of this but many people in the indie film world, regardless of their opinion on the film, will be curious to see how it works out.
Although this isn’t the first time self-distribution has been tried, its rare to see a filmmaker with profile of Smith try something like this.