What was purported to be an auction to sell off the U.S. distribution rights to Kevin Smith's new horror film, "Red State," tonight in Park City, Utah at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival turned out to be -- in the eyes of many -- a publicity stunt (the L.A. Times called it a media circus). And if Twitter was any indication, a publicity stunt that paid off well. While Smith, the "Red State," screening and its P.T. Barnum-like auction did not trend, it was the inescapable talk of the movie industry this evening dominating the conversation online.
Instead of a true auction, Smith "bought" the rights to his own film for $20 and announced instead that his newly-made Smodcast Productions would self-distribute the film, releasing it on October 19. Additionally, the picture would be shown in a roadshow format, with a debut at Radio City Music Hall on March 5 (and these tickets apparently won't be cheap). “We’re starting over," Smith told the audience after his announcement. "It’s not just about making the movie, it’s about releasing the movie. True independence is not about handing your work over to some jackass.”
Several online publications seemed to be incensed by this "ruse" and two geek-friendly writers from (Collider and Hitflix) vowed to never write about Kevin Smith again, once their reviews of the film had been posted. Several publications accused of Smith of "four-walling" the release. Update: Video of the event has arrived and is below.
So that's that in terms of distribution. Smith obviously feels like he can go it alone and alluded to the fact that he'd like to end his filmmaking career soon and distribute other people's films: something he discussed last February when "Cop Out" was about to hit theaters. As for "Red State" itself? Reviews from Twitter were decidedly mixed. Our full-blown review should arrive tomorrow morning, but you'll see a taste it below from our Sundance correspondent James Rocchi. Here's a sampling of the voices on Twitter.
IndieWIRE's Peter Knegt: 'Red State' is a well-intentioned mess. #sundance
Cinetic Media's Matt Dentler (also an IndieWIRE contributor): "Red State" was good, and also not what I expected at all. #Sundance
James Rocchi: RED STATE: 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.
Anthony Breznican: RED STATE is like DOGMA, bizarre offbeat story that no one else would tell. Some stupid stuff, yeah, but I forgive that for the imagination. I gotta hand it to @ThatKevinSmith. RED STATE pulled the rug out from under me about 5 times. Ha ha, weird, imaginative madness. #Sundance
Cinemablend: RED STATE: nah. Action and bloodshed as generic as it comes, typical talky Kevin Smith dialogue kills all tension and energy.
Esquire: Red State: Kevin Smith's horror flick about gay-killing Christian cult is more Waco-lite anti-gov't screed. Crude, effective. #Sundance
IndieWIRE's Eric Kohn: I guess RED STATE is a change of pace for Smith. But what works is the usual Smithean chatter, not the gunfire and brimstone. #Sundance
Total Film: Red State: anti-fundamentalist rant, seige movie, gore flick, shocker, actioner, comedy. Mental, thrilling, inconsistent
IFC's Allison Wilmore: RED STATE: Nasty fundamentalist caricatures vs nasty law enforcement ones. Literally and figuratively preachy.
Erik Davis from Cinematical: Red State: Bloody, violent, random, preachy. I dug it, but didn't love it #Sundance
Our full review tomorrow. Here are the Roadshow dates for "Red State" via /Film.
March 5th – Radio City Music Hall
March 6th – Wilbur Theater in Boston
March 8th – Harris Theater in Chicago
March 9th – State Theater in Minneapolis
March 10th – Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
March 11th – Indianapolis, IN
March 12th - Midland Theater, Kansas City
March 14th – Springfield, OH
March 22nd – Paramount Theater, Denver
March 26th - McCalister theater, New Orleans
March 28th – Paramount Theater, Austin
March 29th – Cobb Energy Center, Atlanta
April 4th – McCaw Hall in Seattle
Video via Film Stage.