Now and again, it’s suggested in the trades that Kickstarter will revolutionize the movie business. I don’t think that’s going to happen, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be a good thing if it did. Don’t get me wrong – I love the idea of DIY entertainment; it’s where art really thrives. But if you take the thing out to it’s logical conclusion…with crowds choosing what gets made (and by default, what doesn’t), you’ll see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Read my recent post about Kickstarter’s diminishing returns HERE.
But what would happen if we applied media-choice democracy (and I use that word loosely) to the distribution part of the movies rather than the production part?
Some would say that ticket buying is already that…we vote with our $14.50. But, of course, exhibitor film buyers are having to predict what movies people are going to buy tickets for, and you can bet that most of them place those bets very conservatively.
But what if, in every multiplex, one theater was left open on certain nights so that The People could decide what they wanted to see?
That is essentially the idea behind sites like Tugg, that allow users to hold their own screenings. The catch is, like Kickstarter where you only get the money if you reach your goal, the screening only happens if you can sell enough tickets.
Consider this Tugg campaign for “Fall and Winter,” which promises to take you on a “Koyaanisqatsi-style journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face.” If the promoter – in this case a photographer friend of mine named John Geary – can sell 60 tickets by the 27th, it’s on. Otherwise, no way Jose’.
Movies have always been a kind of fascinating consumer product – they’re one of the few things we buy sight-unseen. And that is one of the reasons why word of mouth is so important to the success of smaller films. Tugg takes that idea one step further. Is it a game-changer? No, not any more than crowd-funding will be in the long run. But it’s one more tool in the indie-fimmakers’ bag of tricks – and that’s a good thing.