The marketing & distribution smarts of Three Wise Cousins
Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa’s Three Wise Cousins had its theatrical release in early 2016 and its NZ video release on 24 November. Part one of this article (Strategies 1 – 8) is here.
“The Facebook page was the epicentre of our marketing, the absolute core, the only place!” Vaiaoga-Ioasa said.
The page for Three Wise Cousins was the first Facebook page Vaiaoga-Ioasa created. He still doesn’t have a personal page.
Vaiaoga-Ioasa believed that he’d already got his audience before the premiere. The views of the ‘first-look’ trailer, the Facebook likes suggested the truly hard work of winning their hearts and minds was done. At that point Vaiaoga-Ioasa just faced the grind of pushing his film to wherever that audience lived – the four key locations he’d chosen.
He could’ve had posters and billboards but initially he didn’t think the film would be in cinemas long enough to warrant it. Once the film took off and added more screens, it was often going into cinemas without a lot of notice. That didn’t allow the lead-times required to organise poster and billboard campaigns in specific areas, nor for them to be effective.
With a fan-base of ‘Likes’, it’s possible to boost posts on Facebook, which increases exposure of your post to select audiences matching demographics and interests that you can choose.
There are many different options and Vaiaoga-Ioasa admits it’s quite complex. While it’s important to build the base of likes from the very beginning, Vaiaoga-Ioasa makes the point that Three Wise Cousins didn’t start to boost posts until well into the Australian release.
Why so late?
“We saw the button and thought ‘We don’t want to waste our money’! Then we realised it was the greatest value ever. Once we worked out exactly what it was and we could refine down to the town and who likes what…
They would boost a particular post in Penrith or Parramatta, keeping the information as simple as possible and with a call-to-action: “There is no guarantee the film will be on next week.”
“We put in all the locations and links in one post. Every week we’d update it.”
Vaiaoga-Ioasa respected the advice from the movie chains. When they said they wouldn’t screen Three Wise Cousins against Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in December 2015, Vaiaoga-Ioasa and his producing team listened. They postponed their planned release date until the last week of the school holidays in January.
Most people buy cinema tickets on the day, or the day before, of a screening.
Vaiaoga-Ioasa put tickets on sale via Facebook two weeks ahead of the first screenings, to give the exhibitors an idea of audience demand and decrease their risk. This helped the exhibitor gauge the interest in Three Wise Cousins, and gave them confidence to allocate more screenings to meet the demand or, at least, maintain the same number of sessions.
“If you’re starting out, the pre-sale route is the way to go. For the exhibitors, confidence is low given how many independent films flop. Even if you say ‘we have an audience’ you have to prove it. It’s a big financial risk for an exhibitor to choose your film over a properly-marketed film with a budget.”
The intense interest of people who bought tickets up to two weeks ahead showed the cinema that Three Wise Cousins was no wannabe. It grossed $190,000 at the box office in the opening week.