AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY gets its release plan

John Mulhern

by: John Mulhern
January 24th, 2011

American: The Bill Hicks Story

AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY is a fascinating documentary about a man misunderstood. Sure, he had his ups and downs, but by the end of his life many people had a certain idea about him that wasn't exactly true. In the film, they clear the air a bit, and truly give him the kind of praise and attention that he deserves.

The film ran the film festival circuit, and now everyone else will be able to see it.On April 8, the film will open in New York City, and over the next month will expand into 25 more theaters. At the same time, they will be releasing the film through Video On Demand services through Gravitas Ventures so that it can reach the widest possible audience. This is a really great choice for the film, because more people will now have the opportunity to see it.

I adored this film when I saw it at last year's South by Southwest Film Festival and have nothing but excitement about seeing it again. If you're a fan of Bill Hicks, you must see this film. While you're at it, check out my interview with the film's directors and Bill's brother Steve Hicks.

We have the full press release below:


Inventive theatrical “day and date” release strategy devised by Gravitas Ventures and Variance Films as way to share the message of AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY with widest independent film audience

New York, NY (January 20, 2011) – Gravitas Ventures and Variance Films have joined forces on the theatrical day and date release of award winning “AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY”, which will open simultaneously in theaters and on Video On Demand (VOD) on April 8th, 2011. The film opens theatrically on April 8th in New York City, and will expand into 25 theaters across the country throughout April and May. Simultaneously, the film will be available in the living rooms of over 100 million homes across North America through leading cable, satellite, telco, and online destinations.

Legendary Texan outlaw comic Bill Hicks was, and still is, an inspiration to millions. Directed by Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas, American: The Bill Hicks Story captures the artist as a true product of the American dream. Bill’s rebellious and exhilarating comedy left no stone unturned, and his profound observations on America were a life changing experience for many who saw him. The story of a son, a brother, and a friend, this funny and critically acclaimed film is told 'in the round' by the family and peers who knew Hicks best, mixing in captivating photographs animating the scenes of his rollercoaster life with rare and previously unseen footage of his blistering comedy shows.  Covering his precocious teenage years, the dark years of addiction, and all the way through his spectacular recovery and untimely death at only 32, this intimate and emotional portrait is both a revelation for fans and the perfect introduction for newcomers to an iconic comedy hero whose timeless material seems to resonate stronger by the year.
“I was drawn to work on American: The Bill Hicks after witnessing the film get a raucous standing ovation from hundreds of festival goers last year. We love to champion independent filmmaking and we are enthusiastic to collaborate with Variance films on a traditional theatrical release that is simultaneous with a VOD offering” says Nolan Gallagher, Founder and CEO of Gravitas Ventures. “This theatrical day and date distribution strategy allows the filmmakers to turn positive word of mouth and terrific reviews into immediate consumer interaction with the film and it’s just more opportunity for audiences to enjoy movies in the manner they prefer.”

Added Variance Film’s Founder Dylan Marchetti “as a giant Bill Hicks fan, American: The Bill Hicks Story was a no-brainer for Variance- we wanted this film from the moment we saw it. But our Doing It With Others (DIWO) strategy doesn’t just apply to working with filmmakers, and working with Gravitas on this theatrical day and date release is a great example- while Variance works to increase the value of the theatrical (and the film) with live comedy performances, special guests, and parties and events at theaters across the country, Gravitas is going to make sure that everyone who hears the good word and wishes to see the film has a chance to do so, no matter where they live.  It’s really the best of both worlds, and we’re extremely excited about it.”

About Gravitas Ventures

Gravitas Ventures specializes in the aggregation of entertainment content for worldwide distribution via established and evolving platforms in the cable Video On-demand (VOD), broadband, mobile and airline/hospitality industries. The company connects independent filmmakers, production and distribution companies to leading cable, satellite, telco and online distribution partners including AT&T U-verseSM TV, Apple iTunes, Amazon VOD, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox, DISH Network®, Netflix, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon FiOS TV. Working with more than 300 content partners, Gravitas Ventures offers thousands of hours of quality entertainment comprised of feature films, documentaries, animation, alternative sports comedy, and music concert programming.  Recent acquisitions include critically acclaimed films such as Lance Hammer’s Ballast (Sundance), Gary Lundgren’s Calvin Marshall, Stacy Peralta’s Crips and Bloods Made in America (Sundance), John Inwood’s ExTerminators (SXSW), Marianna Palka’s Good Dick (Sundance), Kevin Rafferty’s Harvard Beats Yale: 29-29, Madeleine Sackler’s The Lottery , Michael Keaton’s The Merry Gentleman (Sundance).  Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith’s The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (Toronto) and  Ondi Timoner’s We Live in Public (Sundance), Gravitas Ventures’ mission is to deliver ideas to the digital market while bridging the gap between independent producers and cable, satellite, telco and online opportunities.

For More info on Gravitas Ventures:


About Variance Films

Variance Films is a theatrical distribution company designed to empower filmmakers by partnering with them to bridge the gap between DIY/self-distribution and traditional theatrical distribution.  Founded in 2008 by former THINKFilm executive Dylan Marchetti, Variance’s mission is solely to use our experience to allow filmmakers to release their films theatrically without signing away any of their rights, using a groundbreaking release strategy we call DIWO- Doing it With Others.  With a strong focus on grassroots marketing, “event-izing” each theatrical engagement, and direct audience engagement, Variance uses its collective years of experience in all areas of film, including distribution, marketing, exhibition, and production, to deliver independent films to the audience that is out there, waiting for them.  Recent releases include Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell’s Until The Light Takes Us, Kerthy Fix and Gail O’Hara’s Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields, Victor Nunez’s Spoken Word, Damien Chazelle’s Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Madeleine Sackler’s The Lottery, and Stanley Tucci’s Blind Date. Upcoming releases include Wilson Yip’s Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (January 28th), and Andrew Lau’s Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (April 22nd).

For More info on Variance Films:


For More info on American: The Bill Hicks Story:


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  • http://twitter.com/shaundunne shaundunne

    Such a great film, glad to see it’s getting out there.

  • Compclinic2

    Im wondering if Motion Picture Association of America has anything to do with why this movie is not in the USA? Even though it is coming to America, why is it only going to be shown in 40+ theaters?

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