DENVER, Aug. 30, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Armory Films and The Roadside Attractions took a chance on The Peanut Butter Falcon, an indie film featuring an actor with Down syndrome – and now it is paying dividends. Despite having a limited 17-screen debut, the break-out film was the highest grossing film per-theater amongst all opening films in early August, and has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global), an executive producer of the film, worked with its local Down syndrome affiliates in 15 states to help ensure a strong opening weekend that in turn would trigger a nationwide release to 1,000 screens.
Global activated its base of thousands of members, local and national Down syndrome organizations, medical professionals, self-advocate families, and Hollywood celebrities to help promote the film and drive ticket sales. Global marketed the film on social media sparking millions of likes and through ticket promotions with its member organizations. Global also co-sponsored and co-organized tickets and events with Arc Thrift, Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action, Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte, Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, Down Syndrome Association of Greater Winston-Salem, Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, Down Syndrome Association of Tampa Bay, Down Syndrome Community of Puget Sound, Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area, Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida, Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas, Down Syndrome Network of Arizona, Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County, Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization, Mi Work Matters, National Down Syndrome Congress, Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association, and Triangle Down Syndrome Network. In some cities, the events were so popular there were long lines outside theaters.
Additional marketing efforts from Global included underwriting grants for theater tickets and concessions, organizing raffles for complimentary movie tickets, securing press at premiere and screening events, and creating collateral for the community to share through email and social media.
“I was worried because we only had five days lead time to market the film,” said Michelle Sie Whitten, President & CEO of Global Down Syndrome Foundation. “But in every city where we partnered with our strong local member organizations, we literally sold the entire theater out within one or two hours. There’s a reason this film has amazing reviews in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times. The writing, the directing, the acting – it has it all – and everyone should go see this film!”
The making of The Peanut Butter Falcon started with an ambitious aspiring actor, Zack Gottsagen, and two talented filmmakers, Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, willing to take risks. Nilson and Schwartz wrote the script specifically for Zack and initially faced difficulty pitching the idea to producers. “We were rejected by lots of places because we wouldn’t cast a more famous actor without a disability as the lead,” Nilson recalls. “But Zack could play the role better than anyone else, not just because he has Down syndrome himself, but because he’s also an incredible actor.” When Armory Films heard their concept, they loved it right away and along with their partners Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, were able to help recruit notable stars LaBeouf and Johnson.
Armory Films, the production company, and The Roadside Attractions, the distributor, hosted over 100 private screening events in more than 50 different U.S cities. The A-list cast members attended several of these events for meet-and-greets and private Q&A sessions with the audience.
“We are so grateful to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation for providing us important feedback and for going above and beyond for The Peanut Butter Falcon’s opening weekend,” said Schwartz. “Last year we had the privilege of attending Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show where they honored Zack as their Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award Winner. We hope this film not only helps level the playing field for people with Down syndrome but also draws attention to Global’s great work.”
Moving performances by Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and Zack Gottsagen led to awards at SXSW and other film festivals. At a recent event surrounded by media, Zack explained his newfound success, “I want to show people that no matter who you are, if you follow your heart, you can do whatever you want with your life.”
To learn more about the film and to go see it in theaters, visit www.globaldownsyndrome.org/peanut-butter-falcon
About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Established in 2009, Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Global is part of a network of affiliates who work together to deliver on our mission, supporting hundreds of scientists and medical care professionals. Our affiliates include the Sie Center for Down Syndrome, the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and a new pilot Adult Clinic. For more information, visit globaldownsyndrome.org and follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter @GDSFoundation, Instagram @globaldownsyndrome).
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