Twitter Goes to the Movies With Kevin Smith

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 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”

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…



6 thoughts on “Twitter Goes to the Movies With Kevin Smith

  1. I think it’s a great idea. Smith gets to expand his audience, engage with more fans and likely get what will amount to some good standup material from the actual tweets. Regarding the indie film tour, this could be a harder sell, but if his fans trust his judgement, maybe they’ll shell out to see them.

  2. If anyone has ever read Kevin Smith’s Twitter feed- I think he may singlehandedly be responsible for Twitter’s frequent outages. The guy tweets so much I wonder when he has time to live a life. The end of boredom, perhaps, but the beginning of Twitter addiction for many? Smith is not alone in Tweeting constantly.

    I find it interesting that Kevin Smith Tweeted almost entirely during a snafu about his girth on a SouthWest flight a few years ago- they suggested he purchase 2 seats due to his size. And he Tweeted the whole affair and ended up bringing tons of bad publicity to the airline. However, Alec Baldwin was kicked off a flight for playing with HIS smartphone when the plane was simply idling on the tarmac. It seems a double standard perhaps, or maybe it speaks to the schizophrenic nature of flight attendants implementing of the rules when and where they seem fit. One thing is for certain, mobile technologies and services like Twitter are changing the playing field for the way we live our lives, run our careers, self promote, etc.

  3. Twitter may be “the end of boredom” like Smith said, but it really creates a “personal connection” for fans to their favorite actor/director/athlete/etc and this film “tour” expands on that. Rather than heading to see a movie and leaving there are the added features. $16/$15 is not even that much of a higher price than a normal movie, of course this will be successful, his Twitter followers will attend, non-followers into film will attend, and fans of his who aren’t on Twitter will attend. If anything his massive audience on the internet should almost be looked at as reassuring that this will succeed because he has such a large captive audience already.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head by suggesting that his large Twitter following is a reassurance of the show/movie’s success. This is a way to gauge a person’s active and engaged fan base, and it is that fan base and those in their networks of influence that fill seats.

  4. The live podcast and Twitter Q&A combination is a great idea and I’m surprised it has not been done more often (or at all?) prior to this by other entertainers. Instead of taking months to do many shows across the country, Smith can hit his entire audience with one show on one night. Additionally, the $15-$20 for this event is much cheaper than it would cost to see him at a live show, which is a benefit to Smith’s fans.

    As for Smith’s Twitter following, I think it has tremendous value for Phase 4. On top of the built in audience, Smith’s followers can share his tweets/news with others, expanding the 2 million reach to an even higher number.

  5. Fans will definitely love the live podcast and Twitter Q&A combination but I wonder if they would pay to participate. As long as you can directly @ someone and wishing a reply, for example now firms like CBS even ask those actors in Criminal Minds to actually do such twitter Q&A discussion with viewers, who wants to pay extra fee for that?

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