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Hanging Out at the 'Boondocks'

25 May, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

I actually went to a movie theater recently, pried from the clutches of my couch and DVD player by my love for all things historical to see The Da Vinci Code its opening weekend.

During the pre-show entertainment, an ad touting the one-night theatrical event hailing the DVD release of Fox's cult favorite Boondock Saints hit the screen. As the trailer played, there were several gasps, cheers and even a couple of squeals from the audience.

A pair of guys behind me began gushing over the ultraviolent film, its special-edition DVD shown in the ad, and the National CineMedia-supported theatrical screening the night before its May 23 street date.

What perfect timing for the Boondock ad. The film never got a proper theatrical release, but has garnered a large and loyal following of fans on DVD. In theaters across the country, millions of people who were in theaters for Da Vinci Code learned they could have a chance to catch Boondock on the big screen for the first time.

Several years ago, National CineMedia began using its digital distribution mechanism to highlight music DVD releases right before street date. Since then, higher-profile movies like New Line's Wedding Crashers have used the scheme to revisit fans before DVDs come out.

Still, I think it's movies like Boondock that will get the most out of these special one-night theatrical releases. It creates a real event, a special treat for fans and is likely to inspire DVD purchases.

I know my brother and brother-in-law were at a Boondock screening in Phoenix, and I know they both plan on snapping up the double-disc DVD.

I think studios should take this marketing scheme one step further. If the theatrical event is the night before the DVD release, why not sell DVDs on the premises? Give those fans a first crack at the title. People like to feel special; they like to feel like they are “insiders.” It's like waiting in line for a Best Buy early opening, without the waiting in line.

And that “insider” feeling is something a movie like Da Vinci Code, great as it is, with its hordes of fans and publicity, can't really deliver.

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