With our theatrical release behind us, our next step is to introduce the movie to the world. As per our deal with Indie Rights, they would open distribution doors for us but we had to do the hustling to get eyes on our movie.
The first step was reviews. We were one review shy from the minimum five reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to get a TomatoMeter ranking so our producer/PR Rep Katie kept following up with reviewers. It took a few weeks until we got that fifth review. Unfortunately, that reviewer didn’t post it on Rotten Tomatoes, only his own site, so it took some back and forth for him to get it, and make it official:
The day after our theatrical run ended we were available On Demand on Amazon. This meant people could rent or buy our movie. The price was set, and we started hustling for viewers.
The only problem; there is no way to tell how it is working. The best gauge is by using a link for the film that can be tracked. We chose Bitly, and created a link to our Amazon movie page. The link doesn’t tell us how many people watched the movie, only how many clicked on the link.
After our first week (which was a partial week) 256 people clicked on the link.
By November 10th (10 days after being online) 1,010 people clicked on the link.
We’re going to be famous! Everyone will watch the movie! Producers will throw money at us to make our next one.
Another method of guerrilla marketing: get everyone who has seen the movie to rate and review it. We put out the call to our loyal fans to write reviews on Amazon, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes. Those numbers started increasing as well.
But it’s a long haul. We won’t know how we did on fourth quarter 2019 (October through December) until mid-April 2020. Until then we are flying blind on how we are doing.
But as promised by our distributor, we were added to more platforms. In December, we became available on TubiTV.
TubiTV is free for anyone, even without an account. You just have to sit through the occasional commercial break.
We expanded to other English speaking countries and were now available throughout the U.K. and Australia. Could world domination be next? Surely we would make our investor money back in no time. And start paying ourselves. And start raising funds for our next movie!
Then COVID-19 hit. Things got hard for all of us, and movie promotion definitely took a back seat to child care, worrying about work and finances, and panic drinking. As the days turned into weeks and we realized we weren’t going anywhere, we figured with people at home we could push for more viewers.
We took out Facebook ads and got more hits. By early April we hit 3,000 Bitly hits on Amazon. Moving up!
April 15th was the first payout day. The income we would receive would reflect the 4th quarter of 2019. It would be a short quarter for us, as we weren’t in the theater until the last week of October, then only on Amazon starting in November, then Tubi in mid-December. What would we make?
As the days crept closer to the 15th we allowed ourselves to fantasize. Would we crack $10,000? Maybe more? We could pay off our owed expenses in one shot, start paying our Producer’s Rep, and start paying back our investors.
The 15th was another day during Coronial Times: ALL DAY with the kiddos. Not much to do about that. But then at 4pm the email came in:
It was bad.
Without going into the financial numbers, I can say that during the fourth quarter we were rented a total of 157 times. Only 44 units of our movie sold. Not encouraging.
Silver lining: We did very well during our week’s release in the theater at Arena Cinelounge, becoming one of Indie Right’s top box office movies at that venue.
Black lining: Because of COVID-19 Arena Cinelounge, like all movie theaters, was closed indefinitely. And they did not pay us before they shut their doors.
Coming Next: Things WILL get better. Right?