I came across an interesting article by Mike Kaplan entitled “How Stanley Kubrick Transformed the Modern Box Office Report (By Accident)” and I’d like to be able to drill down into the story Kaplan tells more deeply, particularly his discussion of how the marketing of 2001: A Space Odyssey failed miserably but laid the groundwork for the success of A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick’s next film.
Kaplan worked with Kubrick on both films and the aspect of the article that I found particularly intriguing was his depiction of the progression from the blundering marketing of 2001, to the properly managed, focused marketing for A Clockwork Orange. I see in this some analogies to the situation surrounding John Carter — particularly the pattern of a) marketing misses the mark, b) movie flops, c) movie finds alternative audience, d) succeeding movie builds on the alternative audience and markets correctly, and is successful.
The other intriguing tidbit is that Kaplan devised the “successful 70mm relaunch strategy” for 2001 – and I’d like to know more about that.
Now, the analogy is not perfect by any means ….. but it’s worth a read.
Stanley Kubrick believed that “filmmaking is an exercise in problem solving.” He meant that to include the distribution and marketing of his films as well as their production, and he devoted more time and effort to managing the release of his films than any other director. In my view, it’s one of the reasons he made only 13 films in 46 years. He relished the problem-solving.
I spent two years overseeing the marketing of Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, devising its successful 70-mm. relaunch strategy, before joining him in England to handle the release of A Clockwork Orange. Our collaboration began shortly after Clockwork wrapped and lasted through its December 1971 premiere, its official U.S. release date of February 2, 1972, and throughout its extended rollout. With Stanley’s rare combination of meticulousness and creativity, we achieved what we set out to accomplish — but the most influential result of our collaboration was unexpected.
The distribution of A Clockwork Orange was profoundly influenced by the unique marketing history of its predecessor. 2001 was MGM’s most expensive film to date. The fate of the company, which was in the midst of a proxy battle, depended on its success. It was greeted with derisive, negative reviews by the mainstream press and public — unprepared for its radical, non-linear style — until alternative audiences embraced it as a cinematic breakthrough.
Three and a half years later, the “X”-rated A Clockwork Orange opened to rave reviews in the United States, in a perfectly choreographed advertising-publicity-exhibition campaign that broke house records in every major city. Unlike the first, misconceived 2001 campaign, nothing was left to chance, including the crucial selection of cinemas, which were usually decided by a studio’s sales executives.
2001 was a special roadshow film, meaning it was presented with higher prices, reserved seating, and usually 10 performances a week. Only one to three roadshow cinemas existed per city and were easily identified.