Marketing for Bigfoot film shot in North Bend aims to support struggling local movie theaters

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(Oregon Department of Transportation)

A Snoqualmie filmmaker is set to release a new film in August about an age old Northwest subject: Bigfoot.

“In the story, [the main character] had a Bigfoot sighting about 10 years ago,” said Taylor Guterson, the writer, director, and producer. “Since then, he has really dedicated his life to proving the existence of Bigfoot and has given up everything else; family, career, everything — he’s all-in on this quest.”

Hunting Bigfoot was shot in the woods of North Bend, and the film is taking a fresh approach to marketing and distribution that aims to support struggling, local theaters.

“We’re using the term ‘hyper localized marketing,’” said S. Leigh Savidge, the film’s executive producer, CEO at Xenon Pictures, and an Academy Award nominee for screenwriting for Straight Outta’ Compton.

“A typical release pattern by Sony Pictures, for example, would release an independent film in New York or Los Angeles,” he continued. “These days, studios are releasing movies in the digital sphere, so this has really created all kinds of issues for independent theaters. So I wanted a regional approach here. If you’re going to open a movie like Hunting Bigfoot, you better open it in a state like Washington where you’ve got the most sightings of Bigfoot in any state in the country.”

Hunting Bigfoot will open at the North Bend Theatre, the Galaxy Theatre in Gig Harbor, the Galaxy Theatre in Monroe, the Lynwood Theatre on Bainbridge Island, and the Admiral Theatre in West Seattle.

“Our selling point to the theater is we’ll offer a better split than the major studios generally offer, and we will not release this in a digital sphere for 60 days,” Savidge said. “If someone wants to see this film, the only place they’re going to see it is in those theaters. I believe in the regional theatrical release.”

Usually, a theater will keep 30% of the profits, but the executives behind Hunting Bigfoot are offering a 50/50 split, with a chance for even more if the film does well.

The local marketing tactics are old-school and grassroots, favoring posters to billboards. The filmmakers are partnering with chambers of commerce in screening cities to get local businesses and restaurants involved in marketing the film, since people often grab a bite before or after they see a movie.

“We have some businesses that are putting 5×8 foot banners on the side of buildings near major intersections, we have yard signs right next to the political signs in designated areas. You have to get permits to do this,” Savidge said. “The indoor component is postering, and T-shirts, and things like that.”

Releasing a film in a rural place and giving the community some ownership makes the film feel extra special. The idea is to make it an economic win/win for local businesses and the filmmakers.

“Bainbridge Island, for example, is using the kickoff of this film to start what they call ‘Support the Lynwood,’” Guterson said. “The opening night is actually a fundraiser for The Lynwood Theater.”

“We’re going to have a trailer that plays on the ferry from Seattle to Winslow, Bainbridge Island,” Savidge said. “You’re not going to be able to escape the existence of this film.”

They’re planning to slowly release the film market-to-market, only targeting places where they believe they’ll have the biggest audiences.

“There are Bigfoot communities; I contacted a guy in Humboldt County and he called back right away. We’ll target our theaters and we’ll target our markets, rather than open in New York, or LA, or Chicago. I think it’s the rural communities that are actually the stronger ones,” Savidge said.

Hunting Bigfoot opens:

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