Bruce Campbell comes to town this week as part of his promotional tour for MY NAME IS BRUCE, which starts a one-week run this Friday at the Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles. The film is a sort of horror movie variation on THREE AMIGOS and GALAXY QUEST, in which actors found themselves confronting real-life versions of their on-screen antics; there are also parallels with the recent JCVD, in which Jean-Claude Van Damme played himself as a washed-up has-been. In MY NAME IS BRUCE, Campbell plays Bruce Campbell – a cult actor on the skids who gets a shot at redemption when a fan invites him to a small town – which is under siege by a monster. Can Campbell the person accomplish in “real” life what his characters have achieved on the cinema screen in movies like ARMY OF DARKNESS, in which he battle hordes of Dead-ites? L.A. based fans can not only find out the answer to this question; they will also have opportunities to ask the actor-director a few questions themselves. Campbell will appear in person on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the 7:30pm and 9:50pm screenings, with an additional appearance at the midnight screening on Friday.
The appearances are part of a “whistle-stop” tour to twenty-two cities, including Austin, New York, and Boston. Below, we ask Campbell, who also directed, a few questions about the strategy behind the promotional tour for MY NAME IS BRUCE. In an era when major studios released their blockbusters on thousands of screens, and when most low-budget, independent horror films go directly to video, what can be achieved with a handful of play-dates scattered around the country?
STEVE BIODROWSKI: In the old days, when you had a low-budget movie, the drive-in was the only place it would be seen. Then video took over, and smaller films stopped going to theatres. For the benefit of those of us who do not read the balance sheets, what are you getting out of this tour that you wouldn’t get from going direct-to-video?
BRUCE CAMPBELL: Promotion. Because I’m talking to people like yourself. And if you’re showing it theatrically, you tend to do better sales because you can say, “We’ve been out theatrically in 20 markets.” You can say to Blockbuster, “Give me an order of X, Y, or Z.” Whereas if we had no theatrical, they go, “Here’s your check for X dollars – now get out of here!” Because you haven’t done anything else with it. Theatrical’s always the bench mark: Did you get a theatrical? Now we can say yeah, we did. It just helps everything else.
And there’s always the outside chance it could do well in theatrical and then would move beyond a promotional stunt to actually a box office… to a movie that people would want to see. So at each of these venues, they’re going to be watching very carefully what happens after I’m gone: Are people still watching? If so, then they’ll expand, make more prints, or whatever. So they’re doing the old-fashioned bicycle routine: you “bicycle” the prints around. You go to one city, then take it to another.
I’m very glad they’re interested in doing it. It cost the company more to upgrade for theatrical. We had to upgrade our effects and actually strike a print to go through the whole Dolby certification process. I’m pleased because it meant that the company that financed it wanted to go for it, wanted to take the next step. I got no problem with that.
We’re being shown mostly in Landmark Theatres, which is a great movie chain. They care about the quality of the presentation. It’s not that multiplex feel. It’s a good match-up so I’m happy t be affiliated with them.
This gives you an opportunity to see you audience face-to-face.
I feel it’s very necessary to go out. Aside from the fun road trip, I get to see who shows up: Who’s watching these things? Is anybody watching these things? And gauging the reaction. The only way to know if your movie really sucks or not is to sit in front of fifty audiences and watch it.
You always gage it to see if it starts strong but you lose ‘em. It’s all about: Do you hold their attention? What parts do they like? After awhile, you can predict. It becomes like a performance: it will always work in this area; it will always be a little slow here.
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SIT THROUGH IT WITH AN AUDIENCE YET?
I have, at a couple of sneaks. The response has been good, so I’m feeling good about getting it out to the world.
To learn more about making MY NAME IS BRUCE, cick here to read the Cinefantastique Online interview with Campbell.
The Nuart Theatre is located at 11272 Santa Monica Blvd (just west of 405 Freeway) in West Los Angeles, CA 90025. You can call (310) 478-6379 or (310) 281-8223 for more information, or check out the official website.