Two-Time Oscar Winner Kevin Spacey Jumps Bravely Into Self-Distribution With Today's Unique Release Of His Latest Film

Kevin Spacey  continues to do things his own way.  After all, this is an actor who shortly after winning his second Oscar ran off Tribeca Talks: After The Movie: "NOW: In the Wings On A World Stage" - 2014 Tribeca Film Festivalto England to become Artistic Director of the Old Vic  rather than cashing in the way many other actors have. This is also the actor who launched an acclaimed TV series,  House Of Cards on Netflix as a binge-watching experiment and wound up at the Emmys in only his first season. And today Spacey is taking his career into his own hands again with the unusual distribution plan for his latest film, Now: In The Wings On A World Stage . a documentary which recounts the ten-month world tour in which he played Richard III. Although this terrific docu is going to play theatrically (where it can also presumably qualify for Oscar consideration), it will also be available for a download purchase at KevinSpacey.com  (and Nowthemovie.com which is essentially the same thing). This is a brave new world for film distribution, but so far very few big names have done it.  Louis CK sells his comedy specials this way at his own website, and even Tomorrow Night, an early film he directed and starred in that had never gotten a formal release.  Spacey told me he actually called  Louis CK for advice on this platform and learned it can be a very profitable deal (Louis CK has reportedly grossed up to $50,000 a day with some), and a better way to get more specialized projects seen in greater numbers than might otherwise be the case.

now-in-the-wings-on-a-world-stage-posterThe docu debuted last week at the Tribeca Film Festival  and played one night earlier this week at L.A.’s Landmark Theatre at premium prices. I moderated a Q&A at the latter with Spacey afterwards in front of the SRO house. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that an actor whose company produced The Social Network would be a forward thinker when it comes to the digital revolution and all its possibilities. “I guess I’m just continuing  to do disruptive  behavior. If you look at what’s happening in entertainment, particularly  in terms of the way  lots of emerging  talents are finding  ways to get their material  out, and audiences who are finding all kinds of new platforms to discover content,  it makes sense.  It seems to me movies like this are quite often undervalued by the industry. They sort of slot them and say ‘it’s really just for a small audience’. I could have gone the traditional route and taken the film to a film festival, with a little hat in my hand, and sit in some restaurant and try to make a deal with Harvey Weinstein at midnight,”  Spacey said to a big laugh. But he added that the traditional route of distribution just frustrates him when the film doesn’t get out there the way he hopes, and thinks, it can. “I have never self-distributed before. It’s a massive amount to learn in a very quick period of time. It’s very exciting. It is kind of nice to be in control.”

The film is available in the U.S. starting today and will roll out to the UK in June and200200B3E32FC4-B334-41D8-1F14C3F1A8EDA43C around the world over the next eight to ten months. The docu works not only as a fascinating look at what it is to be in a company of actors, but also as a pretty impressive travelogue as it chronicles the troupe’s travels to Greece, China, Australia, Italy and many other stops over the course of ten months and  200 performances in the acclaimed stage production which re-united Spacey with his American Beauty director Sam Mendes. They both won Oscars for that 1999 Best Picture winner. This was a very unique experience because the company was 50% British and 50% American, just another part of the Spacey philosophy of trying something different and not being afraid to fall on your face. He decided not to “film” the play as many productions are doing now for event-style theatrical distribution. Rather,he wanted to show the process and this docu is definitely awards-worthy in that regard. “It was a unique experiment to have these British and American actors  do classic work  and see if it wasn’t going to be shit. The director of the film, Jeremy Whelehan , had never made a movie before but I felt if he could just sort of integrate himself into this company and disappear, then maybe the cameras will be able to capture it. Later we could figure out what it is (in editing).” he said. “In some ways I wanted to make the film for people who don’t get theatre, who don’t understand it. I also wanted  to make it for people who do love theatre. And do understand it. No matter how good an actor may be in a film they will never be any better. It’s frozen. In the theatre you might be better tomorrow night than you were tonight.”

Kevin-Spacey-says-House-of-Cards-proves-TV-smarter-than-musicSoon Spacey goes back to work on the third season of another one of his grand experiments, House Of Cards which picked up nine Emmy nominations last season including one for Spacey as Best Actor in a Drama Series. It won two Emmys including Best Director in a Drama Series for David Fincher. It’s practically guaranteed another boatload of nominations when the 2014 list is revealed July 10, a real breakthrough show in many ways.  “We made a unique step. It is the first time in TV history that a show has been given an order of two seasons without shooting a pilot,”  he said explaining that every network except Netflix turned down the idea without first seeing a pilot despite their eagerness to work with Spacey and Fincher. “And the way in which they distribute the series is really just falling in line with the way audiences have been showing they want to have their entertainment. With box sets that’s really just binge watching too.  I think there’s something very interesting about what the Netflix model demonstrates, that perhaps we are learning what the music industry didn’t learn. Give people what they want in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and the chances are they will buy it and not steal it. Audiences have proved one thing: that they also want to be in control,” he said.

  1. “Give people what they want in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and the chances are they will buy it and not steal it.”

    Right there, in one short sentence, is what all content providers need to know in order to succeed in today’s media world..

    1. Hard to argue with that. The form I want this (and everything else) in is Netflix streaming. I’ve already paid for it & it’s the most convenient for me. I’m not running all over the internet to download stuff. Hey Kevin you’re friends with Netflix, when are you going to license your show to them?

  2. He’s also the star of Activision’s next ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’

    It pays the bills!

  3. A word of caution. For an addictive personality like myelf, 12 years a sober, House of Cards is like a new drug with its own specaialized habit-forming properties. Francis Underwood, delivering gorgeous soliloquies dripping with caustic, machiavellian irony, transposing devious thoughts into delightfully diabolical actions, can only inspire my inducement to his aspirations as I hypnotically slumber towards his deceit. After 8 or 13 hours of binge watching what is a man to do? An AA meeting doesn’t quite do the job. Me thinks another 12 step program is called for. Oh boy….

  4. Hate to be a downer, but this will make very little money, i.e., <$500,000.

    Love the approach, but this is just "not commercial."

    Thanks to the internet, Actors/producers will now get to learn first-hand just how difficult the distribution game really is…

    There are only about six pipes in the world (Disney, Warners, etc.) and all the oil must flow through them to truly succeed!

    Still, I wish the Fine Gentleman much good luck.

    1. I’m sorry but ‘Angry’ is just wrong. This will work, and Spacey will own it forever and be able to license it anywhere that Weinstein and the others could have in the first place. This is brilliant thinking, and with the studios and the others abdicating intelligent fare to anyone else that will have it, a new pipeline will open and this and Louis CK are the first ones through the tunnel. This is why you’re angry and out of work. Sadly, you’re a follower and not a leader.

  5. By the way, just bought it and watched it. It was excellent and very easy to download. I didn’t have to ‘run all over the internet’ I just had to put in ‘Kevin Spacey’ in a google search.

  6. Funny how little people know about Distribution and this business. Even A list stars. In a word… DUH

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