Real-Time Distribution Case Study, Week 14: Box Office!

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Things are swirling, swirling, whirl-winding this week.

So much going on, so little time and brain power left to write.

Well ok, maybe there is time. It’s choosing to sit still which is not my strength.

As a team, we prioritize and execute on what we hope are the highest impact tasks. My delegation, prioritization, communication and management skills continue to be tested, and I grow and learn — as fast as possible!

Indeed, we are all learning as we go, so much, so fast. That concept of “failing-fast”? We’re practicing it — so that we can also “succeed-fast” — which we are doing too.

We’re working to communicate, check-in and keep each other up to speed on successes, mistakes, tasks, and priorities — so that we stay on brand, avoid duplicating jobs, and use our time, skills and energy most efficiently.

We’re doing this all remotely. While going to softball games, riding lessons, concerts, our other jobs, and hiking, painting fences, and cleaning house.

Have I said how much I love this team of amazingly loving & hard-working individuals? It’s like a dream. It is something I’ve never before had during distribution. They encourage me,challenge me, push me, and help me grow. They work dang hard, are wicked smart, and they care about this release just as much as I do.

I am so grateful.

It may be time for some guest blogging so they are officially introduced.


MovieAd: I have to give another update, because this is one of those super simple things that fascinates me. How did I not know how to do this before?

Check it out! Our Title Art above the theater door. It magically appeared. Look what’s across the hall.


Box Office reporting: Again, another super simple task that I embarrassingly just learned how to do.

The film opened in Klamath Falls on Thursday May 2 for a full run.

On Monday, I pulled up Box Office Mojo to see if our weekend numbers were listed.

Nope.They do not auto-magically appear as I naively assumed.

After a call to Comscore (Rentrak), some paperwork, and an email to Box Office Mojo, ta-dah! Our numbers were listed. Just like that.

Kind of fun to be beating Ugly Dolls in per theater average. And at the Pelican, we are second in gross receipts for the week behind Avengers.

I’m fascinated and elated to figure out this process. In the past, I stopped at bewildered.

Now… I have to manually report these numbers each week. There’s got to be a better way, but that’s for next week’s task list.

A few more details: Most theaters report through Comscore (which used to be Rentrak).

For Comscore to capture that reporting, they needed me to submit an Excel “Title Report” for the film and send it back to them by email. Once the title is in their system, the nightly (or hourly) automatic reporting from the theaters is logged in their database. I need a subscription to access that data. Stay tuned. I’m guessing it is too expensive for our needs, but we’ll see.

For Box Office Mojo, they had me send an email to numbers at boxofficemojo dot com with title, distributor, genre, running time, mpaa rating & reason, release date, contact, imdb url. Then each week (on Friday for the week and Monday for the weekend), I send a report to the same email with title, number of theaters, week/weekend gross, and cumulative gross to date.

Somehow their email bots (or people) input all of this data. I suspect there’s more to it.


Klamath Falls Screening: This was a special night filled with fun and love. We showed to two packed crowds, and it was wonderful to share the film with the community that helped it come to life.

In addition, it was the first screening in an official cinema, and Phoenix, Oregon played across the hall from Avengers!


Portland: Another week, another screening, another theater(s) to fill up! Even before the audience started lining up in K-Falls, my mind was on the next screenings.

I am getting my head around the fact that selling tickets is just like crowd-funding.

Once I better understand the selling curve, I will feel better.

Before the Kickstarter for “Black Road”, I studied the curves of successful film campaigns. As long as we stuck to the average curve, I felt confident. As soon as we dipped below the curve, we’d do a big push for donations to get back to the standard curve. It worked, and we completed a successful campaign.

The secret is that most of the sales are at the beginning and end, with few in the middle.

This seems to be true with ticket sales — and maybe for any industry with time-limited product sales.

121 tickets have been sold to the Portland screenings next week (of a total 1056 capacity). Most tickets were sold within the first few days. I don’t have a good sense of our sales curve yet, so don’t know how good we are doing with 10% sold and a week to go. It feels low, so we’re pushing harder now while expecting an uptick in the last couple days. Two of the four theaters are closer to 40% sold, so we shall see.


Jesse Borrego is joining us in Portland next week! We can’t wait to see him again. He’s hot off a trip to Liverpool for the Fame UK Reunion with fellow Fame TV co-stars. He’ll join us all four nights, although we’re pushing “Jesse Borrego Night” on May 14.

Photo credit: Mary WilkinsKelly


Press: It doesn’t necessarily seem “hard” to get press. It just takes time and persistence, and the timing needs to be right. The press is obviously very busy. For reviews, they need to be notified several weeks in advance, but it is still a challenge to get the film on their review schedule. For Portland, we may only get one review. Radio, TV, and print don’t seem to start in full force until the week before or even the week of the screenings. It feels very last minute, but maybe it will help. Portland will be a test.

There aren’t too many lead-up stories, so we’ll be relying on grassroots marketing and last minute TV, Radio, and local print.


Merchandise: In K-Falls, we again sold out of t-shirts (10). For Portland we’ll have 200 t-shirts (100 each of two designs in 4 sizes and 2 colors.)

We also sold out of 20 download cards for the digital download with director’s commentary available Fall 2019. These download cards are sold at a “screenings only price” of $10. The cards have unique codes and will be able to be redeemed in the fall.

I printed the first batch myself, and it was a challenge finding a printer for the larger run. They will be overnighted to Portland for the screenings.

The unique codes were created in Excel using the RAND() formula, and then imported into Shopify so that we can apply a discount to the digital download product.

I provided the printer the artwork files and an Excel spreadsheet with the codes.


Next week, I get my first taste of blogging from the road as we’ll be in Portland Monday through Friday. Thanks for your continued support and for following along!

♡ Annie


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