Self-Distribution Case Study: "What the Bleep do we Know?"

The following information was compiled by cross-referencing  several articles, books, and resources on the success of the self-distribution of the film "What the Bleep Do We Know." Watch the film here.

WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW (2004)
William Arntz

Synopsis: 
Part documentary, part narrative, part animation, this film digs deep into the new theories and paradigms of quantum physics, and successfully made this new complicated science a popular topic of conversation in the public eye. A divorced photographer’s uninspired daily routine is abruptly altered when she begins asking herself important questions of the nature of her own reality and existence. Her life quickly unravels into a fantastic Alice-in-Wonderland vision that begs her to ask: Is this real? What is real? Am I real? Who/what am I? As premiere scientists, neurologists, and gurus try to answer her questions, we get a glimpse into the exciting new discoveries of the nature of our existence and the existence of the universe. 

Production Budget:
$4mil

Marketing/Distro Budget
$2.5mil

Source of Funds
private, self-financed

Marketing Strategy:
• region-based self-marketing for a niche audience
• grassroots web-based promotion to get people to go to the theater
• recruiting street teams locally in the region they want to screen
• spiritual communities like Sedona, Nor Cal, So Cal, Hawaii

Distribution Strategy:
• self-distribution to theaters first
• started the film in Yelm, WA – they begged until the theater allowed them to screen it 
• one week turned into a seven week run
• second theater in Portland, OR(Baghdad Theater where some of the film was shot) – one week turned in to 18 weeks (7,000 tickers sold per week)
• screenings so successful that they finally landed a distribution deal with Samuel Goldwyn/Roadside Attractions 
• released the film on 60 screens five months after the original release
• Fox Home Video picked up the video rights and marketed the DVD very aggressively. 
• 11% of online DVD pre-orders were for multiple copies

 Fat horny lady from "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

Fat horny lady from "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

Reach: 
• 201,728 likes on Facebook
• hundreds of thousands of YouTube video views
• 1,200 Twitter followers

Gross Profit:
• US Domestic: $10.7 million
• Foreign Gross: $5mil
• over 1,000,000 DVDs shipped within the first six months

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