Of all the things that Jordan Peterson has been accused of, not being marketable feels like one of the strangest.
One of the worlds most famous intellectuals, the University of Toronto professor and bestselling author has seen his profile rise exponentially over the past few years. He has become a polarizing figure, with ardent supporters and persistent detractors, with the latter group linking him to the alt-right.
Following along were the makers of the documentary, The Rise of Jordan Peterson, who had three years of access as his profile grew. They initially aired a version of their doc called Shut Him Down on the CBC, but due to what they felt was an explosion of interest in their subject, they say they decided to do a new version, re-editing it and adding over 60 new minutes of footage.
That film is set to debut next week on Sept. 26 at Cineplex Yonge & Dundas but after that, the film has been having some trouble finding theatres. The website Post Millennial reported that Torontos Carlton Theatre planned to run the film for a week after the Yonge & Dundas screening but then decided not to show it after one of its employees complained.
Thats what weve been hearing, that its a market decision, says Paul Kemp, one of the docs executive producers. And I said, are you are nuts? This theatre is a mile from Jordans house where he is drawing 6,000 people to public speeches, so I find that hard that believe.
Kemp wondered if the Carltons proximity to Ryerson University and Torontos Gay Village, and the perceived liberal populations in those places, may be the reason that the theatre decided to back out of the screenings.
Despite the Stars repeated efforts to reach the Carlton staff and its parent company, Imagine Cinemas, request for interviews got no response.
Kemp says the Carlton, known for its willingness to mount brief theatrical runs of small Canadian films, was not the only theatre that didnt want to air the documentary.
We tried to get a broad release. We did get interest from several places, but what would happen is that there would be a discussion, says Kemp. For instance, I know the initial person at the Carlton likes the film. And she said lets do this. But then several weeks later Im not sure of the hierarchy there, or how decisions were made but all of a sudden we got told that we would not get the release, so we had to scramble and now we are going with a consumer-based approach, we are using Demand.film in Canada. Its really fascinating model, and its going to be great for independent film, particularly if you have support for a cause or an idea or group.
Demand.Film and Gathr in the U.S., which the doc is also working with, are platforms that help films pre-sell tickets to a cinema, and when there are enough consumer interested, it triggers and confirms the screening.
Of course, that means there may only be one screening, as opposed to a week-long run, where people can decide to go on a whim, says Kemp. That said, if there is demand, they can quickly add more.
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