Just this week, we launched TEN9EIGHT in eight cities in partnership with AMC Theaters. Gerry Lopez, Bob Lenihan, Nikkole Denson, Sun Dee Larsen, Gene Willis, April Beebe, Nate Reid - and the entire AMC team, from top to bottom, has embraced TEN9EIGHT in a most remarkable way.
Since August, when I last posted an update, we had been talking to several theatrical and broadcast distributors, including Sony Picture Classics (and yes, it is true - I stuck to Tom Bernard like a cheap suit.) He had his people watch the film and consider... watch and consider... and watch and consider once again. When it became apparent that we were not going to be picked up by Sony, it was time to saddle up the rolodex.
A friend then introduced me to Bob Lenihan, AMC's head of programming. Bob watched the film. Called me back a day later. Fast forward to last Thursday when AMC opened the film in 8 cities (in an upscale theater and an urban location in nearly every city). The first wave of screenings were free - open to teachers and students - which were jammed. I saw firsthand the reaction of the kids in New York's Lincoln Square AMC. I stepped in about 3/4 of the way thru - worried that they would be jostling and texting and talking and fidgeting... and there was complete silence. I heard reports that throughout the country, the kids at these screenings clapped and cheered - and that reaction, my friends, has been our most powerful and important review of this film. Because we made it for them.
Our official theatrical release began on Friday, with Russell Simmons (DefJam) and Larry Wilmore (correspondent from the Daily Show) joining us for a packed red carpet event in New York. Last night in Washington DC, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Dennis Hightower, AMC CEO Gerry Lopez (who flew in from Kansas City to be with us), Chris Gardner (profiled in The Pursuit of Happyness), and Joe Saunders introduced the film at a special screening at the Smithsonian.
TEN9EIGHT is playing at select AMC Theaters this week, my peeps. Click here for showtimes. Please bring your friends, neighbors, Facebook friends, frenemies, bosses, in-laws, the whole gang.