Case Study No. 3: "On Broadway"

On Broadway, a movie about a working-class Bostonian’s attempt to stage a play in the back of an Irish pub, has received such a good response from film festival audiences around the country that the producers decided to self-release the film in Boston last month.

The film had more star power than the average indie production: former New Kids on the Block heartthrob Joey McIntyre stars as Joe, the film’s playwright protagonist, and Will Arnett of Arrested Development fame plays a supporting role.

The struggles of McIntyre’s South Boston character to get his play staged echo the methods McLaughlin and Greene used to build buzz for the film. The filmmakers engaged in heavy grassroots marketing, and targeted a surprisingly wide audience. Boston film students came to support a homegrown production, thirtysomething viewers came with some residual interest in McIntyre, and some more conservative older viewers came to see a heartwarming story that could be a source of pride in the same way that Good Will Hunting was to the city years ago.

The box office numbers from theaters in Dedham, Somerville, West Newton, Weymouth, and Sharon, have so far been impressive. The per-screen average for the show’s run from March 14 to March 20 was $2,250, and the film grossed about $5,000 in one day at one of the Boston-area theaters.

“Those are studio numbers,” boasts Lance Greene, an actor-producer who worked with director and writer Dave McLaughlin to get distribution for the film. Indeed, in three of the five theaters it screened in, On Broadway was the top-grossing film of the week, beating out major studio films.

Building on that success, the film opened March 28 in Newport, R.I., and on April 5 in Providence, R.I., earning good reviews in both cities. The filmmakers are now looking to do theatrical runs of at least a week in both New York City and Los Angeles.

The filmmakers signed with Cinetic Media of New York CIty last fall, and the film is now being sent to major players in the home DVD market, such as Magnolia and NetFlix, Greene says. Shoreline Entertainment of Los Angeles markets the film overseas, and the Cannes Film Market (the companion to the Cannes Film Festival) will be screening the film in May. The plan now is to continue to self-release, Greene says, as that will help the filmmakers continue to garner media attention (no kidding) and will prime demand for DVD sales.

The bottom line: Greene observes that film distribution is changing daily, and Web streaming will become a major marketing vehicle in the future. It is essential that first-time filmmakers see the process through to the end. Go to festivals, talk to theater owners, never give up on your project, Greene says. Show that you’re passionate about it. The sacrifices you make for the success of a film today will hopefully pave the way for future projects.

Related Links:

Watch On Broadway’s trailer.

Read Case Study No. 1 on The Sensation of Sight.

Read Case Study No. 2 on Buddy.

Return to the main page of “Adventures in Self Distribution.”

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