Will “Repo!” Steal Hearts?

Repo Promoting in Downtown Berkeley Image from shellEProductions’ PhotostreamDoes anyone else hate the phrase “Instant cult classic?” Instant classic is like instant chocolate brownies. It might temporarily fix your chocolate craving – but it’s nothing like a dessert you spent a couple hours baking from scratch.

Well, NPR is also a little skeptical of the idea that someone can deliberately create a cult film. Repo! the Genetic Opera is an upcoming movie starring Anthony Stewart Head, Paul Sorvino, Alex Vega and. . . uh. . . Paris Hilton. Combining organ repossession, rock musical numbers, a big bad corporation and a distinctly “Blade Runner” feel, the creators of “Repo!” seem confident that alternative kids will come running to a film made just for them.

Beth Accomando at the NPR pop culture blog points out that the movie is using a web-heavy marketing strategy out of necessity – they have no money for a big budget ad campaign. I am impressed that the film’s creators are interacting directly with fans – but I wonder if you can classify people who have yet to see a film as “fans.”

Increasingly, savvy directors and producers have deputized fan communities in the fight to keep a movie franchise making money. This creates a sense of “ownership” that is actually quite different than the fans of a cult classic like Rocky Horror. Rocky fans go to midnight showings because they aren’t supposed to: The film wasn’t intended to be made fun of and shouted at and have toilet paper strewn all over it. It’s not just an alternative film, it’s an alternative film-going experience. Whether or not “Repo!” can capture that sense of forbidden fun is yet to be seen.

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