Consolidated marketing effort

Cross-promotional partner for indie pic is rarity

In a rare marketing achievement for an indie film, "Funny Money," starring Chevy Chase and being distributed by ThinkFilm, has lined up Consolidated Resorts as a cross-promotional partner, adding millions of dollars in radio and national cable TV ads to its marketing budget.

While cross promotions with major brands are the norm for tentpole studio releases, it is unusual for an indie film to persuade an advertiser to put marketing dollars behind a movie with uncertain distribution and no major marketing budget of its own.

"It definitely is rare for an independent film to have brand promotional partners because advertisers want to associate themselves with well-known projects and big studio projects," said John Owen, president of Set Resources, an entertainment marketing firm. "The distribution on independent films is typically questionable. It's hard to convince a client to trust in an independent film because they don't have the marketing budget to get the word out."

Executive producer Jeff Franklin, however, persuaded Consolidated Resorts, which has time share resorts in Hawaii, Las Vegas and Orlando, to promote "Money."

Valcom Studios hooked up Franklin and Consolidated, which spends $35 million annually on TV and radio advertising. The company is expected to spend millions marketing "Money."

"The film was made for under $10 million, and they're getting millions of dollars of advertising that normally you wouldn't see happen with an independent film of this size," Consolidated Resorts chairman and president Michael Kaplan said.

Most of the radio ads are running on Clear Channel and CBS stations. They feature Chase and co-star Penelope Ann Miller in two-minute interviews speaking about the film, their careers and the promotion for a complimentary stay at Vegas hotels. The TV spots will be like typical film commercials but will be tagged with a voice-over about the offer of a free stay.

Kaplan said "Money" is a good fit for Consolidated because the film reaches its target demo of couples ages 25-60.

The movie, based on the London play, opens Jan. 26 in Los Angeles. It is about a wax fruit factory worker who finds a briefcase containing $5 million that belongs to a Romanian mobster.

"Money" marks Consolidated's first foray into feature films.
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