The first thing that catches you about Richard Linklater‘s new movie, Boyhood, is the gimmick: It took 12 years to make. And this wasn’t some Orson Welles-like fight with a studio or money people or an artistic fugue state like those afflicting early Terrence Malick or late Stanley Kubrick. It was done on purpose. And the studio behind the project, IFC, was all for it, doling out about $200,000 a year so Linklater could annually gather his cast and crew to shoot a few days at a time for a dozen years followed by, as Linklater put it, “a big chunk at the end” to finish the film.
The film debuts Friday in five L.A. and New York theaters but already has racked up a lot of favorable notice, collaring a Silver Bear for directing and two other prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival, plus four more awards from the South By Southwest and Seattle film festivals. It’s also scored 100 percent among critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Just as important, it’s getting notable social-media attention for an indie release, says Marc Karzen, CEO of RelishMIX, which tracks online engagement for films and TV shows.
“What’s impressive about this picture is that they decided to drop only a small amount of trailers and spots and make the 12-year experiment the big hook, which fans are sharing,” said Karzen. “It was made before social media existed, but you can see how a good story has an even better chance to find its audience.”
Those few official trailers are getting shared heavily, with an international trailer racking up 3.2 million views, “very high for an art film,” Karzen said. Fans also have been sharing Coltrane’s interviews about growing up with the movie. It’s doing well otherwise on social media, despite the fact that Linklater, Arquette and Hawke have very small social-media presences. “While (those three) are not social superstars, the buzz is making its way to film lovers, especially on YouTube and Facebook,” Karzen said.