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Wellspring Is <I>Notorious</I>

7 Sep, 2002 By: Dan Bennett

Wellspring Media is gearing up for what video chief Dan Gurlitz anticipates will be the independent supplier's biggest title of the year: Notorious C.H.O., a 90-minute live concert and interviews with gay community icon Margaret Cho.

The title is coming to DVD and VHS Nov. 19 after a limited theatrical run marked by high per-screen averages and a box office gross that as of late August already stood at more than $600,000.

Accordingly, Wellspring is upping its ad campaign and ad budget across the board with a special emphasis on the gay community.

“We're planning national Web-based campaigns, major metropolitan-area radio campaigns and fantastic print ads -- all post-street date to drive sales throughout the holiday season,” said Gurlitz, VP and general manager, home video, for Wellspring.

“A solid portion of our advertising dollars goes to promoting gay-themed titles. It's a part of our business that is exploding, and Margaret Cho is the spearhead for our efforts this season,” he added.

After a successful opening in larger cities, Notorious C.H.O. spread to medium-sized and smaller towns, gaining similar word-of-mouth promotion as Cho's first film, I'm the One That I Want. That film was No. 5 on planetout.com's listing of the best films of 2001.

The new title again features Cho in self-effacing mode, examining what it was like to grow up as a non-WASP and exploring every conceivable comic element of the relationship between her and her mother. The film, under the Wellspring theatrical banner, has established Cho as one of the top female performers in the business -- and the darling of the gay community, Gurlitz said.

“Margaret Cho illustrates in her comedy why it's OK to be different, and that appeals to the gay demographic,” Gurlitz said. “They have adopted her, and what makes this title big is how her career has driven up the mountain in the last year. The title has been a huge hit in theaters, and the baton has been passed to home video at precisely the right time, while interest is enormous.”

In promoting the video, Wellspring will use the theatrical exposure to its full advantage.

“People are talking about this movie everywhere you go,” Gurlitz said. “You can't underestimate word-of-mouth on a title like this and how it helps push a video release to its fullest potential.”

Among its advertising buys, Wellspring is utilizing OUT magazine and related publications to target the gay demographic, as well as Premiere magazine to spread the word among the mainstream audience.

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