Many buyers were in attendance (including Smith's mentor Harvey Weinstein) under the guise of a live auction, but Smith surprised everyone in the Eccles Theater on Sunday night by winning the bidding war himself before it even started for the low-risk price of a crisp $20 bill.
Smith did add that he's looking to partner with a "smart exhibitor" to show the sure-to-be controversial movie.
Prior to the announcement, Smith spent more than 15 minutes railing against tricky Hollywood accounting, arguing that it makes no sense to spend $20 million marketing a $4 million movie, which was the budget for "Red State." Smith said it took "Clerks" seven years to turn profit, despite the fact that the black-and-white film cost little more than $27,500.
Smith said he won't spend a dime on traditional marketing such as print & TV ads, as well as outdoor billboards. Instead, he plans to make investors their money back by relying on his devoted fanbase to spread word-of-mouth.
SModcast, named for Smith's popular (and now lucrative) podcast, will release "Red State" on Oct. 19, but fans in select cities won't have to wait that long to see the film.
Smith is taking "Red State" on a month-long, cross-country tour, which kicks off on March 5 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Tickets will be significantly more expensive than your average movie ticket, but Smith promised that attendees will get more bang for their buck, not to mention the chance to see the movie six months earlier than the rest of the country.
Tickets go on sale this Friday, Jan. 28, and other dates include:
3/6 - Wilbur Theater, Boston, MA
3/8 - Harris Theater, Chicago, IL
3/9 - State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
3/10 - Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI
3/11 - Clowes Memorial Hall, Indianapolis, IN
3/12 - Midland Theater, Kansas City, MO (home to Rev. Fred Phelps, whom the main character in "Red State" is more or less modeled after)
3/14 - Clark State PAC, Springfield, OH
3/22 - Paramount Theater, Denver, CO
3/26 - McAlister Auditorium, New Orleans, LA
3/28 - Paramount Theatre, Austin, TX
3/29 - Cobb Energy Centre, Atlanta, GA
4/4 - Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle WA
The "Red State" website (named after the town where the main character preaches intolerance) allows fans in other areas to request screenings in their hometown, which is the same approach that "Paranormal Activity" took en route to its staggering success at the box office.
Additionally, Smith and Gordon used the newly-unveiled website to release a statement regarding their surprise decision, which is available in its entirety below.