Self-described "fat, masturbating, stoner" Kevin Smith is getting a lot of press for his recent publicity stunt at the Sundance Film Festival. Having just premiered his new Phelps family-inspired horror movie, Red State, Smith announced an auction for the distribution rights. The auction turned out to be an excuse for Smith to castigate the studio system that he's been working in for the last half-decade or so, and that made it possible for him to be paid millions of dollars to direct Cop Out. Then he bought his own film for $20.
So how does this affect you, good people of Kansas City? If you have any interest in seeing the film version of our region's most successful exporter of craziness, it's going to cost you. It turns out that Smith is charging his largely non-millionaire audience a day's pay for the privilege of witnessing his vision.
Smith told the assembled press and Hollywood philistines who just don't get it, man, that he was abandoning the traditional system of advertising a film and booking it into theaters around the country at normal ticket prices. Instead, he'd launch a 15-day Red State Movie Tour with stops in at least 13 cities, including Kansas City at the Midland. Should you go, you'll get not only the film but also a live Q&A with Smith and his Fred Phelps stand-in, Michael Parks, and some sort of surprise treat. He added that each screening will cost "six, seven, maybe 10 times what you'd normally pay."
Smith has built a loyal following for himself, no doubt about it. The cost of the screenings and the lack of promotion mean that the people who go will probably be die-hard fans, which also means that Smith will probably be enveloped with the warm, uncritical love he so richly needs and deserves. The audiences will also likely be a lot kinder than the critics, who Smith once praised for making his career and who have so far responded to Red State with a great big "meh."
Can I say one thing here? It's a lot harder to pose as the scrappy, independent artist once you start mass-producing action figures of yourself.