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Posts tagged “moviemeter

First Audience

BryanCranstonHelenMirrenTrumbo

Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper and Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo – now playing.

To be a theatrical marketer you just have to do what I do when I go to the movies these days—you find someplace to sit in the lobby and look at theatergoers. I’ve worked in consumer marketing in one form or another for over twenty years and it just comes down to patterns. First, as a magazine publisher and then as a filmmaker. In the former, I targeted the fans of a particular sport (age didn’t really matter), but in the latter it’s a demographic.

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Theatrical audiences for Justice Is Mind averaged 40+ in years with an even split in gender.

Since I wrote First World back in 2006, and produced a short film version in 2007, I’ve known for some years that attendees of the science fiction convention circuit generally skewed in my age group (I was born in 1965). So when I wrote Justice Is Mind in 2010, I thought it would generally appeal to an older audience who may have counted TV series like Law & Order as their favorites along with films like The Andromeda Strain and the more contemporary Gattaca. The theatrical release of Justice Is Mind proved my theory when the majority of those that attended our screenings were 40+ and evenly split between men and women.

Of course, when you’re writing a screenplay it’s all guesswork isn’t it? Despite the best laid plans you really have no clue how it’s going to do. Yes, studios and some filmmakers do test screenings, but unless you are going to poll the entire country you just have to hope your film will find an audience through your marketing plan. But one demographic that is doing exceeding well are older audiences. Before there was Netflix, Amazon, and even Blockbuster, we went to the movies.  Seeing a movie in a theater was an experience you weren’t going to get on television. I’m not discounting the importance of the younger generation that of course goes to the movies, but the generation I’m in is a bit more predictable – they want to see great stories come to life on the big screen.

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SOS United States can be compared to Seven Days in May (1964) meets Clear and Present Danger (1994).

As for great stories, I saw Trumbo this week and just thought it was a brilliant film. For me, I’ve always been interested in stories that revolve around the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Cold War. Throw both of those interests in and I’ll be the first to buy a ticket!  Trumbo did not disappoint. Considering the ground it covered in 124 minutes, the story really captured a time in Hollywood and a political climate in the United States all those decades ago that I believe we are feeling now in the 21st century. You know what they say about history, it has a nasty habit of repeating itself.

As an article in The Wall Street Journal stated this week, there is a booming business in grown up films. When the $600,000 budgeted film Grandma returns $7 million in box office, that’s a serious profit and a business model that works.

Next pitch.

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“McCarthy era” like hearings on mind reading take place in In Mind We Trust , the sequel to Justice Is Mind.


Justice In Demand

Justice Is Mind had its international premiere on the Queen Elizabeth in October.

Justice Is Mind had its international premiere on the Queen Elizabeth in October 2014

When Justice Is Mind’s MovieMeter listing hit 10,989 out of 3.1 million entries on IMDB last week it reminded me, yet again, what’s possible when you set your “mind” to do something.  Hitting the top half one percent of all entries listed on IMDB was a milestone like no other. Why? Because it proved to me, and all of us involved in Justice Is Mind, that audiences are interested in this film.

Justice Is Mind is a true independent film.  There’s no studio involvement and no “A list” stars to propel it. But what it does have is a story and the passion of those involved in it, wrote about it and watched it. In the end, that’s all a filmmaker can ask for.

At Plimoth Cinema in January 2014

At Plimoth Cinema in January 2014

When we ended 2013 as the 8th Highest Rated Independent Film on IMDB, my goal was to ride on that and continue to push Justice Is Mind as much as possible.  The year started off great with a screening at the Plimoth Cinema in January with a new audience attendance record in March at Cinemagic in Sturbridge.

At Cinemagic in March 2014

At Cinemagic in March 2014

Screening Justice Is Mind at Carnegie Mellon University in April was a particular honor. For it was  the science of “thought indentification” led by Dr. Marcel Just from a 60 Minutes interview I saw in 2009 that brought us to Pittsburgh in 2014. Having Dr. Just host the screening with star Vernon Aldershoff in attendance with me truly brought the film home.

An audience record at Cinemagic.

An audience record at Cinemagic

Justice Is Mind returned to its production home in May with a nearly sold out screening at The Elm in Millbury. I have to say I had the most fun at this particular screening. Bob Leveillee, who plays Bob Oxford in the movie, owns Pizza Post and not only did a stellar job in marketing both the Millbury and Sturbridge screenings, but arranged for a limousine to take the attending actors and crew on a champagne toast. Indeed, these are the memories you would want an FVMRI machine to reveal!

With Dr. Marcel Just and Vernon Aldershoff at Carnegie Mellon University

With Dr. Marcel Just and Vernon Aldershoff at Carnegie Mellon University in April 2014

And finally, after months of searching for a theatre at Cape Cod, the Chatham Orepheum theatre screened Justice Is Mind in September. With not only cast members in attendance but members of my family I haven’t seen in years, it was a special evening.

At The Elm in Millbury

Fun at The Elm in Millbury in May 2014

But it was shortly before the Millbury deal came through than some other outstanding news came our way. Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth wanted to screen Justice Is Mind as an international premiere in October. Exciting didn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling when this opportunity presented itself. In addition to being a much needed holiday, the voyage on the Queen Elizabeth included me giving a filmmaking seminar to guests and then the international premiere later that week.  From the ship, the ports of call and the new friendships, it was the voyage of a lifetime.

At the Chatham Orpheum in Chatham

At the Chatham Orpheum in Chatham in September 2014

Along with our theatrical screenings came the VOD debut of Justice Is Mind on Amazon Prime Instant Video, VHX, IndieReign and Reelhouse. Now, with the click of a mouse, Justice Is Mind can be watched around the world. With more VOD platforms coming online in the new year, it will be interesting to see what’s next.

Just before the start of my filmmaking seminar on the Queen Elizabeth

Just before the start of my filmmaking seminar on the Queen Elizabeth

Of course the aforementioned is the good news and I couldn’t be more thankful to all those that made it possible. But make no mistake about it, the amount of hard work to get to this level is monumental. Sending emails, making phone calls, endless pitching and planning. I was talking with one of our crew members this past week and we were discussing the realities of this industry. For every announced deal, there are those that got away, got rejected or just didn’t happen. But that is what this industry is all about. It is about the dreaded “no”. But when the “yes” comes in, there is a “specialness” to it because we know the road we had to travel to get to that point.  Those that know me, know I’m an eternal optimist. I don’t dwell on what didn’t happen, rather I focus on what can happen.

On ESPN's The Price of Gold

On ESPN’s The Price of Gold

This past year I dipped my toe back in front of the camera with ESPN’s Price of Gold and The Folklorist. My political thriller SOS United States is complete at the script stage and an agency is considering First World.  So while I continued to push those two projects, and perhaps look at some opportunities in front of the camera for the next year, I come back to Justice Is Mind.

Justice Is Mind hit its highest MovieMeter rating this week on IMDB.

Justice Is Mind hit its highest MovieMeter rating this week on IMDB

The idea for the sequel came to me over the last few months. And like the creation of Justice Is Mind, I just started to write down some notes and shared some ideas with Mary Wexler through many an evening IM chat on Facebook (Wexler plays Judge Wagner). What has driven me so much to write the sequel? The reaction from audiences that have seen it, the journalists that have written about it and cast and crew that have continued to support it.

Happy New Year!

Margaret Miller's book plays a central role in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

Margaret Miller’s book plays a central role in the sequel to Justice Is Mind