Monterey Sees Green in ‘Indigo'10 Mar, 2005 By: Brendan Howard
In Indigo, a little girl with a special spiritual connection to the world's “web” can see the future.
Scott Mansfield, president and managing partner of Monterey Media, would hope to share the same power.
When Indigo was pitched to him, it was a low-budget project from the minds of inspirational author Neale David Walsch (who stars in the film as the girl's grandfather) and producer/director Stephen Simon (What Dreams May Come, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure).
Of course, Mansfield couldn't literally see the film's success in the future, but Monterey helped make it happen.
The supplier planned an event in which AMC theaters and “new thought” churches (nondenominational and “transdenominational” churches appealing to all types of believers) would show the film at the same time. Mansfield anticipated 50 theaters and 100 to 150 churches. On Saturday, Jan. 29, he had 100 AMC theaters and 503 other venues screening Indigo at $10 per ticket, sold online.
That one-day theatrical debut will help the DVD, which streets April 26 (prebook March 22) at $24.95.
“When I first sat with Blockbuster in early December, we'd sold out a few theaters in three days over the Internet,” Mansfield said. “[At the time,] we told them we were going to have 50 theaters and 100 to 150 churches and gross $300,000.”
The final tally: $1.9 million.
How did they do it?
“We did a tremendous amount of viral marketing on the Internet,” Mansfield said. Monterey got spirituality and new-thought Internet mailing lists to promote Indigo to their members. Churches used it for fundraisers. Inspirational author Deepak Chopra mentioned it on his online e-mail list, and the producers of What the “Bleep” Do We Know!? sent word out on their lists.
Just as there is a surprisingly lucrative Christian audience for such films as Left Behind and The Passion of the Christ, Mansfield believes there's an audience for “spiritual cinema.” And “spiritual cinema” like Indigo could appeal to believers of all faiths.
“This film has a spiritual message, not a religious message,” Mansfield said. “True spirituality is not in conflict with any particular religious doctrine.”
Indigo's story about a girl with special powers is, according to some, based in truth. Mansfield said cases of kids in different parts of the world drawing the same pictures have been documented, leading some to think that some children have a connection to some larger “web.” In the movie, Grace's abilities to predict the future and heal people help heal her broken family.
But if audiences don't believe in indigo children, there's still the story.
“An 8-year-old girl will still enjoy a film about a girl and her grandfather,” Mansfield said.
Monterey will continue the innovative marketing on video, hitting the new-thought community again on the Internet and taking the film to niche markets that don't interest larger studios, he said.
“We took The Grateful Dead Movie into Grateful Dead shops, and we put our motorcycle film in motorcycle shops,” Mansfield said. “We're advertising [Indigo] in Premiere, but also in new-thought type publications like Yoga Journal.”
Mansfield hopes Monterey will continue in spiritual cinema as well.“There's a very nice market,” he said. “It's a jumping-off place for unique acquisitions and bigger budgets. We hope we're on the ground floor.”
Monterey Media will bring out the one-day event strategy again “up and down the West Coast” for a surfing film, which is in preproduction.