For all the arguing about the future of brick-and-mortar cinemas, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that people do indeed like the act of going to the movies — it’s just that we all wish it was a slightly better version of itself. The experience often leaves something to be desired, especially where ticket prices are concerned, the rates inflating to steep new highs that threaten to undermine the whole point of what’s supposed to be the cheapest, most widely accessible form of public entertainment.
Marcus Markou has a plan. The independent filmmaker made waves today with a press release announcing an unusual distribution scheme designed to goose attendance for his latest feature The Wife and Her House Husband. So long as the title plays theatrically, tickets will only put buyers back a single pound, just like in the good ol’ days that the majority of currently living people were not around to see.
The press release provides a cursory synopsis for the under-the-radar drama as “a moving and intimate story of a married couple on the verge of divorce, when a letter from their past appears to draw them reluctantly back together,” though the release strategy for this film may be more eye-catching than the text itself. Markou himself will appear at cinemas playing his film to give a special introduction, beginning with the Prince Charles in London on 10 March before expanding across the UK through April.
The draw for Markou’s unorthodox gambit is twofold. One-quid tickets will help put cheeks in seats, which makes his film a more appealing prospect for streamers looking to license, and that’s where a microbudget production such as this starts seriously making back its money. But there’s also a built-in novelty factor to this old-school William Castle-style carnival-barker gimmick that naturally accrues press in aggregated news posts much like this one.
In an attached statement, Markou says that he set out “to raise the profile of indie films at cinemas and how indie filmmakers can build their own audiences,” well aware that the biggest challenge facing most unestablished artists is getting eyeballs on their work. But there’s a sturdy principle underlying this risky attempt to infiltrate cinemas: people really and truly love not paying for things.
Published 31 Jan 2023
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