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Niche Doc On-Demand Release Targets Batman Fans (VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 13, 2014 at 12:15PM

Documentaries lend themselves to targeted niche marketing and, as "Detropia" proved last year, self-distribution. All you need is a subject with a defined fan base. Funded by more than 1,000 Kickstarter donors, Brett Culp's "Legends of the Knight" is a case in point. Relying on community support with each screening benefiting a local charity, the movie has been pulling in Batman fans across the country.
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'Legends of the Knight'
'Legends of the Knight'

Documentaries lend themselves to targeted niche marketing and, as "Detropia" proved last year, self-distribution. All you need is a subject with a defined fan base. 

Funded by more than 1,000 Kickstarter donors, Brett Culp's "Legends of the Knight" is a case in point. Relying on community support across the country with each screening benefiting a local charity, the movie has been pulling in Batman fans, who can request on-demand screenings at their local theater via the film’s website. Proceeds from each showing are contributed to the charity of their choice. There are no critics' reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic (Screenrant review and interview here), and yet the film is pulling moviegoers.

Since launching this concept three weeks ago, the filmmakers have booked 28 screenings in cities around the U.S., starting with six playdates on the east coast which drew hundreds of attendees, according to the filmmakers, raising thousands of dollars for local charities. The next round of screenings next week will hit San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. 

In the film Culp talks to a wide range of fans and industry professionals involved with various interpretations of the DC comic book character. The filmmaker tells Screenrant: 

"There have been so many different versions of him...We’ve gone across the ages for this film. I have people in this film that talk about being inspired by the Batman TV show of the 1960s to be a hero. This gentleman we interviewed ultimately became a police officer because he watched that show every day when he came home from school. He wanted to go fight crime and be like Batman, and now he’s the captain of the gang unit in Las Vegas. That’s as Batman as you get for a real-life person: out there on the streets every day fighting crime. Then you have [executive producer] Michael Uslan, who hated that ’60s TV show so much that it drove the rest of his life to rid the world of that version of Batman. 'Legends of the Knight' is less about the Batman that has been created by Tim Burton, or Adam West, or Scott Snyder, or Frank Miller, or anybody else. It’s more about the Batman that exists in our own minds when we walk away from that character.”

Confirmed screenings are here and below, with the official trailer:

This article is related to: Batman, Documentary, Marketing, Distribution, Independents, Kickstarter


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.