Steven Soderbergh admits his distribution strategy for Logan Lucky failed

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Marketing a feature-film, even a small one, isn't exactly a cheap undertaking, but Steven Soderbergh believed that he could do it differently and save a lot of money in the process. When he came out of big-screen retirement to helm LOGAN LUCKY and UNSANE, Soderbergh decided to roll out a strategically targeted campaign which would cost $20 million. That may still sound like a large amount to you and me, but it's a fraction of what major studies typically spend to promote their films. Unfortunately, neither LOGAN LUCKY or UNSANE proved to be box-office successes, and Steven Soderbergh admitted to Deadline that his strategy was a failure.

Typically, you cannot get out of bed for under $30 million in marketing and it’s probably going up from there. I felt with a strategically targeted campaign, you ought to be able to do it for $20 million. My concern was, the implications of skyrocketing marketing costs are dire for creative people. So I wanted to see if it was possible. It didn’t work on Logan. I got the opportunity to do it again on Unsane. It didn’t work again. The bottom line: $20 million is not enough for a wide-release film to generate the level of awareness that you have to have. It’s just not.

Steven Soderbergh had hoped that he could harness Channing Tatum's charisma (and social-media presence) in order to promote LOGAN LUCKY by other means. "I wanted to test a theory. Could you increase awareness by generating direct contact between, let’s say, your talent and the audience, and draw people toward a film? Chan[ning Tatum] went on this little road trip the week before Logan Lucky opened," Soderbergh said. "He was doing fun stuff with real people and he posted a couple of things that millions and millions of people saw." Soderbergh admits that the end result "didn't move the needle at all." Soderbergh even switched up his approach for UNSANE, but it still didn't seem to work.

Well, I think you’re right in that the other thing…on Logan Lucky we put a disproportionate amount of our money into digital and a very small amount into TV. I decided to reverse that ratio on Unsane, because my takeaway from Logan Lucky is forgetting about awareness, and that it’s still, for all its inefficiency, a good way to get a lot of eyeballs on your movie through commercials. I think there’s also a psychological component that’s tricky to quantify. Which is, if people don’t see commercials for your movie, they don’t think it’s a real movie. Seriously. Real movies advertise on TV. I think that’s how people think. So if they didn’t see your commercial, they’re like, that must be some off-market thing. Because I see ads on my favorite shows for real movies. So we tried that on Unsane. It still didn’t work.

Steven Soderbergh's next film, the sports drama HIGH FLYING BIRD starring André Holland and Zazie Beetz, will hit Netflix on February 8, 2019.

Source: Deadline

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.