Frontier(s)’s Scary Marketing Strategy

After Dark Films had planned to release FRONTIER(S) as part of last November’s nationwide horror festival of “Eight Films to Die For.” Unfortunately, the graphic French torture porn film ran afoul of the MPAA, which wanted to rate it NC-17. Instead, After Dark will give the film a solo release on May 9 – the week before it hits home video store shelves. The risky strategy is designed to use the theatrical campaign to promote DVD sales, thus maximizing the marketing dollars, instead of spreading them out on two campaigns, one for theatrical and one for video. Advertising Age has an article in which After Dark CEO Courtney Solomon explains his tactics:

The move is a significant gamble. As Mr. Solomon explains, a French-language horror film was never going to have enormous box-office potential, but the NC-17 rating it initially received from the MPAA would have doomed it, he said, both theatrically and on video. (Mr. Solomon noted that many of the largest theater chains, like Cinemark, won’t exhibit NC-17 films, and most big video stores, like Blockbuster, won’t stock them. Theaters will exhibit unrated films, and video stores will carry them, too.) “The last 40 minutes are just relentless blood and gore,” said Mr. Soloman in an interview with Ad Age. “It’s a gorgeous-looking film.”

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Landmark Theaters chain, said that while he “loved that [Lionsgate and Mr. Soloman] were going day-and-date” with the film’s release in theaters and on home video, “the issue of course isn’t whether it’s good for consumers, it’s whether they can get any national theater chain beyond Landmark to carry the film.”

Mr. Soloman has a cunning plan for that, too. He’s “four-walling” the film in the top 10 markets — jargon for essentially renting out a given theater and guaranteeing the exhibitor a predetermined fee instead of sharing gross receipts. It’s financially risky, but he feels it will pay off in DVD sales. “This is what every studio wants to do,” said Mr. Soloman. “Have their DVD marketing actively benefit from their theatrical marketing.”

About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

One Response to “ Frontier(s)’s Scary Marketing Strategy ”

  1. [...] it hits video store shelves, the theory being (as expressed by After Dark CEO Courtney Solomon here) that the DVD marketing will benefit from the theatrical marketing. Nice theory, except that there [...]

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