When the LCD Soundsystem concert documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits screened at this year’s SXSW festival, audiences danced in the aisles as if they were at the actual 2011 farewell show captured in the film.
That gave distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories an idea. ”We felt seeing it in the right environment was crucial,” says Oscilloscope co-president Dan Berger. ”We thought, ‘Why can’t this be special, just like a concert?”’
So the company decided to release the movie on July 18 for just one night in theaters across the country, joining a recent trend in the indie-film world of single-day engagements. Another company, Fathom Events, has been leading the charge, organizing everything from opera simulcasts to screenings of Kirk Cameron’s Monumental, which raked in $1.25 million on a single Tuesday night. The secret weapon? Targeting moviegoers directly and cheaply. ”When you have a niche audience who wants a product, it’s easy to market using social media,” says Fathom CEO Kurt Hall.
Online demand is so high for Shut Up and Play the Hits that Oscilloscope has added a second night in a handful of cities. And in a saturated market where every movie needs to stand out, more indies are likely to adopt the one-night-only model. ”Embracing alternative methods is really important,” Berger says. Consider the game changed — if only for a night.