LOS ANGELES • Maybe you have to spend big if you want to stand out in the crowd and generate a big payoff.
But director Steven Soderbergh has long believed otherwise and felt that big movie studios overspend on marketing.
And he set out to prove it with Logan Lucky, which arrived in wide theatrical release in North America last Friday.
Through an unusual arrangement, the film-maker had complete creative control over its marketing campaign, which cost roughly US$20 million (S$27.3 million) - or half of what a studio would typically spend.
The results were not promising.
The heist comedy earned about US$8.1 million in ticket sales, a weak showing for a well-reviewed film.
The No. 1 movie over the weekend was The Hitman's Bodyguard, which fought off the competition to collect a stout US$21.6 million.
Second place went to Annabelle: Creation, which took in about US$15.5 million for a two-week domestic total of US$64 million - certainly not a scary outcome for its backers.
Soderbergh certainly is not afraid to try again. In an e-mail on Sunday morning, he did describe the turnout for Logan Lucky as "frustrating", but vowed to forge ahead with his next film.
He said Unsane, starring Claire Foy and Jay Pharoah and shot in secret in June using an iPhone, will "go out with the same approach, though with some new marketing ideas we didn't get to use on Logan Lucky".
Logan Lucky cost about US$29 million to make and was financed by pre-selling foreign distribution rights. The cast and crew worked for scale to keep the budget down, with profit participation if the film succeeds.
Soderbergh raised the marketing funds by selling a portion of nontheatrical rights.
"This weekend's number is not a problem; we were in profit as soon as someone bought a ticket."
He added that 46 per cent of the total domestic ticket sales "will go into a pool shared by the cast and crew".