I can’t wait for you to see Detention. One of the most interesting films to show at SXSW, it’s propulsive, divisive, and an absolutely pitch-perfect film for where we stand right now in our cultural and communication paradigm. A movie that seems like it’s being tweeted directly into your brain by a lunchroom full of sugar-jacked teenagers, it’s a time-traveling head trip through the last 30 years of music, genre cinema, and fashion. It’s also fun and funny and probably understands teenagers better than any movie I’ve seen in years. And now it has a distributor.
Both Variety and THR picked up on the deal, which is with Sony’s Worldwide Acquisitions shingle. The group usually handles DTV movies, but occasionally venture into theatrically geared films as well, and works with distributors to get them on screens while handling the VOD and other portions of the release. Black Dynamite is a good example of a film they’ve handled well, and hopefully Detention is a film they’ll be pushing just as or more aggressively. This deal comes with a definite theatrical release plus the now-expected VOD component, with a release date still to be set for late this year, or early next.
I think Sony’s group has an exciting opportunity to levy the social media this film feels so internally built on top of and turn Detention into something new and fresh. Everyone is waiting for a film to break-out and change how we think about hybrid releases, and Detention is the kind of film that could manage it. Consider what Kevin Smith has done with Red State, what we’ve seen with Rubber and Hobo this year, and ponder the cool release models that are still to be experimented with. I’m hoping SWPA does all this and comes up with a well-considered campaign.
I know some chewers are going to think I’m unequivocally retarded when the film finally hits their eyeballs, but as I mentioned in my explanation of why Scott Pilgrim was my favorite film of 2010, I believe that good, progressive films travel across certain wavelengths, and not everyone is attuned to those frequencies. That doesn’t mean those people are wrong or imperfect film-goers, it just means those waves are going to pass right through them, while other waves that some might not be sensitive to will strike them just right. Detention is definitely traveling across a wavelength on the edge of the spectrum, but I don’t think it’s a narrow one. From older adults that will follow all of the references, to the 20-somethings that will trip nostalgically as they see the 90s reprocessed for the first time (this perfectly at least), to the modern teenagers the film is actually about, the audience is wide and out there. Director and Co-Writer Joseph Kahn and Co-Writer Mark Palermo have crafted something really special in that sense. I’m not the only one who thinks so: plenty of other critics have praised its cutting-edge take on horror comedy, and it just won the Youth Jury prize for Best FutureWave Feature Film at the Seattle International Film Festival.
So here’s my review of the film from SXSW, here’s Iain’s interview with the film’s D.P. Christopher Probst, and I think it’s just about time for me to unleash my stupidly epic interview with Kahn and Palermo soon…
We’ll keep you up on actual dates and details as they emerge.
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