This one’s for all of you who complain when they tell you to turn your phones off at the movies.
I’ve seen a couple of previews for Kevin Smith’s upcoming Live From Behind show in recent trips to the movies, and I’m curious to know what you folks think of the idea.
Smith’s live Q&A shows have found eager audiences for years, and his “Smodcast” podcast series spawned a deal with SiriusXM, a book, and an entire Internet radio network with more than 30 programs. One of those, “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old,” will be performed live in Toronto and broadcast to audiences at more than 500 theaters in the U.S. and 42 more in Canada. In addition, fans at the theater will also have the opportunity to submit questions for Smith live via Twitter, which he will answer during the show. Tickets appear to be priced in the $12 to $18 range, with tickets in Lowell, Mass., actually going for more ($16) than in Manhattan ($15).
Smith has nearly 2 million followers on Twitter, and he has a history of making himself accessible to his fans with his account. He promoted the release of his SMod-cast based book with a 24-hour Twitter-thon (link to an old NYDailyNews.com article by yours truly).
When I was at the Daily News, I had an opportunity to interview Smith about that book, and we got to talking about Twitter and his following. At the time, Smith was of the opinion that “Twitter is nothing more than the end of boredom” (I believe that’s the phrase he used; I didn’t transcribe that part), and went on to say:
“People don’t understand why, but they acknowledge that people like me. Those people go, ‘Okay, we’ll factor that into it all,’ but it’s weird to expect that just because I’ve got a bunch of people following me on Twitter, ‘give me money to make a movie.’ It don’t work like that.”
That may be true, but The Guardian has cited Smith’s large following – Twitter and otherwise – as a factor in Smith’s new deal with Phase 4 Films. The new venture, “Kevin Smith and SModcast Presents … ” will see Smith handpick four new films per year from independent filmmakers, tour with the movies, introduce them to audiences, and host Q&A sessions after the films. Smith took a similar approach last year with Red State, touring with the film following its debut at Sundance before a wider theatrical and on-demand release this past fall. According to the Guardian, “Phase 4, who worked with Smith on promoting the Red State tour, will be hoping to take advantage of the director’s faithful fanbase, which includes almost two million Twitter followers and the listenership of Smith’s regular podcast, hosted at smodcast.com.”
So, there are a few questions to ask here. First, what do you think of the live podcast and Twitter Q&A combination? Do you think it’s something that fans will pay for? Do you think it has potential applications to other types of content?
Moving over to Smith’s new independent film tour, how much value do you think Smith’s Twitter following has for Phase 4? How much do you think a social media following can affect the market for an entertainer? I, for one, have wondered how much Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter following had to do with him being tabbed to take over for Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men…