I think someone called Restrepo, "The movie all Americans should see but probably won't."
Today, I was answering an email from a big wig up the chain of command, who ended it with "Other movie stars have come to and shown their movies prior to its release."
I wanted to nicely remind them Restrepo is a small film and it's already in theaters. It's a documentary with no big movie stars, no love scenes, no car chases, no sex scenes (though I'm sure the platoon would have loved one), and no CGI. Instead, it's a small, independent film
about a very big topic: war.
The result? Let's put it this way: our travel budget is probably
1/10 of what a blockbuster movie spends on its catering truck in a
week. An example: Tim Hetherington, myself and SGM LaMonta Caldwell had a delightful late night supper one night at ...WAFFLE HOUSE. Yeah, there goes your illusions about us eating high on the hog (we did have BBQ served in plastic baskets in Nashville), and drinking champagne, or being whisked around in a Town Car (we rented a Corolla).
But this anecdote aside, there are many reasons it's not playing every local cineplex. First off, I want to say how lucky we are Restepo is being played as many theaters
as it has. So many fine little films are shown at festivals like Sundance, Little Rock Film Festival, and they never get a distributor to step up and take a risk. So in this respect, Tim & Sebastian were really lucky Nat Geo came through to promote, market and distribute the film. If they hadn't, well, their Mums probably would have been the only ones to have seen it. (And by the way, yes, I'm encouraging people to support film festivals).
But historically, documentaries don't make much, if any, money.
Therefore, theaters are very reluctant to book a film like Restrepo: even if it excites them, even if they know it'd be better for their viewers to see this than some other big blockbuster where the plot is
predictable. The movie world is a cut and dry business, and theaters are competing with Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube --things designed to keep people home. So understand that theaters will be more likely to book a blockbuster than a documentary in order to make bigger profits.
Someone on Facebook asked why it wasn't showing at every Camp or Fort. Most theaters on military installations (with the exception of a few) are owned by AAFES. AAFES has very strict requirements that in order to be booked, a film has to have at least 122 celluloid copies. We don't have enough prints or the funding. So, we've been able to compensate by booking in cineplexes and theaters near Forts, such as Fayetteville NC.
In addition, while we've been working to try to show the film on bases worldwide, we don't have the rights to do so yet. But give us a bit: we're working on it.
We have been fortunate to be in towns both big and small. I'd like to think one of the reasons is the military support community (composed of veterans, families and civilians) has worked very hard for it. People like Dallas Wright
not only got it booked into a Little Rock Arkansas theater, he also made the rounds and talked to a lot of people, and wrote an article. So ....word of mouth, a bit of pushiness really helps. Once it's booked, it's critical to get people to fill the seats.
Only then, will the theater owner hold it for more than a week.
If you want it booked into a town nearby, join the Facebook page. Look under "Notes" and you'll see how to bring it to your hometown.
There's still much to be done. We have to get more civilians in to see this film. I sure hope this film goes far and wide.
Make sure you also read what Tim & Sebastian have to say about this.
One of the things I'd love to see--along with donating to a veterans organization (which they have every intention of doing), is Tim and Sebastian upgrading to Denny's from Waffle House! And yes, can I say this? I'd love to see this nominated and winning an Oscar.
But if it does, best to make a profit to buy Tim and Sebastian some new clothes.