A couple of months ago, I heard some New Yorkers who are involved in the film industry talk about dealing with changing release strategies. At one point, one of them said in a horrified voice, "And remember There Will Be Blood? It opened in ... Austin!" We were all supposed to look shocked, I suppose, but instead a voice in my head shouted "Hah!" in triumph (not aloud). Austin landed the Paul Thomas Anderson movie during Fantastic Fest, before any other city, and it was a rare treat for us to be ahead of the game. Usually we are late in getting limited-release films, waiting enviously while the East and West Coasters have all the fun.

Now New Yorkers are in a dither again because Baghead, the latest film from Jay and Mark Duplass, is opening in limited release on June 13 in which city? Austin! New York and Los Angeles won't see the indie film until July. The reason Sony Pictures Classics is citing for this "reverse rollout" is that they want to build word-of-mouth more effectively, and build a following before Baghead reaches the largest media markets. The New York Times published a long article today about the ramifications of releases that start outside of their fair city, questioning whether this will become a trend or if Baghead is an "aberration." Over at Variety's blog The Circuit, Michael Jones reminds us that Austin isn't like the rest of Texas, and wonders if word-of-mouth can spread effectively from the city of slackers to places like Dallas and Houston. I feel like I should offer in-depth analysis from the viewpoint of an Austin film critic, but unfortunately my primary reaction continues to be on the maturity level of "Neener-neener-neener! We get a film before you do, for once! Suffer!" Seriously, the film community in Austin is large and diverse, and does have influence outside of the city. Buzz from film festivals and premieres here can spread quite effectively. I'll be interested to see if Baghead's release strategy is successful -- obviously I want it to succeed so more films open here. Incidentally, the Austin premiere for Baghead, on June 12, promises to be unusual and fun -- the movie will be shown out in the woods of Star Hill Ranch at night, with the Duplass brothers in attendance. That's not the kind of premiere you'd find in Manhattan.
categories Movies, Cinematical