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G.B.F.: A Prime Pick-Up for U.S. Distributors

Tanner (Michael J. Willett) has a bonding moment with Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse) in G.B.F.
Photo: Kate Romero. © 2013 School Pictures

Of the 20 feature films I saw at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, one coming-of-age comedy was so impressive and entertaining on so many levels that I can’t quite believe its U.S. distribution rights remain up for grabs.

It’s a film that goes to the mattresses against entrenched social stereotypes and topples them with a sassy sledgehammer. A film that hearkens back to the teen classics of yesteryear, while its viewpoint, vernacular, and fashion are simultaneously timely and ahead of their time.

It’s G.B.F., the latest film from the one and only Darren Stein (Jawbreaker).

© 2013 School Pictures

GENRE: Comedy

Michael J. Willett, Paul Iacono, Sasha Pieterse,
Andrea Bowen, Xosha Roquemore, Molly Tarlov,
Megan Mullally, Evanna Lynch, Joanna ‘JoJo’ Levesque,
Derek Mio, Mia Rose Frampton, Taylor Frey,
Natasha Lyonne, Jonathan Silverman, Rebecca Gayheart

DIRECTOR: Darren Stein

G.B.F. – TFF 2013 Film Guide

“Social warfare erupts in a suburban high school when the three clique queens compete over this year’s must-have teen girl accessory – the G.B.F.”

**FYI: “GBF” means “gay best friend.” If you didn’t know, you probably don’t have one.**


Audience: Tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings–LGBT, straight, and otherwise–and all who revel in the vivacious worlds of Darren Stein’s creation.

As SNL’s Stefon would say, this film “has everything”: Queen Bitches, divas, Mormons, besties, frenemies, popsicle jokes, Megan Mullally, slow-motion hallway struts, backstabbing, sh*t-talking, shopping, sexual innuendo, religious persecution, prom, a creepily-hilarious cat lady, and the latest must-know lingo and abbrevs.

Selling Points: When we look back on G.B.F.‘s cast in five-to-ten years, we will still be impressed by how visionary its casting is—not only for the sheer volume of talent, but also for the cast’s collective market power. Tween and teen fan bases have recently (and repeatedly) proved their abundant loyalty to actors—particularly those who are easily accessible and interactive on social media—in addition to particular series and franchises. With a cast that includes stars of Pretty Little Liars, Awkward., Desperate HousewivesMake It or Break It, GreekHarry Potter, and more, G.B.F. has a built-in audience to whom the film need not be sold, but merely made available.

For example, let’s look at the four actors on G.B.F.‘s poster: Michael J. Willett, Sasha Pieterse, Andrea Bowen, and Xosha Roquemore. Collectively, this foursome currently has 361,389 Twitter followers. If each of those followers purchased a movie ticket at the 2012 national average price of $7.96 (The Wrap), G.B.F. would gross its first $2,876,656.44.

And the best part? Neither of those numbers includes Molly Tarlov‘s 90,772 followers, Evanna Lynch‘s 498,190, or Joanna ‘JoJo’ Levesque‘s 680,004. Add in the fan bases of Megan Mullally, Natasha Lyonne, Jonathan Silverman, Rebecca Gayheart, and Darren Stein, and even accounting for overlap, a sizable audience will still follow this cast to the box office.

Photo: Kate Romero. © 2013 School Pictures

Distribution Suggestions: A simultaneous theatrical and digital release is worth considering in this case. Digital rentals would allow G.B.F. the widest reach in its target demographic—including communities where the powers that be might be inclined to protest the film’s message and public showings of it.

In order to maximize digital rentals, G.B.F.‘s distributor should be mindful of the target demographic’s financial realities when setting a rental price. Most (if not all) tweens and teens—and even some twentysomethings—are subject to parents/guardians’ control of the iTunes/VOD purse strings. A rental price closer to $6.99 than $9.99 is less likely to stand out on a credit card bill and is not prohibitively expensive to those tweens and teens footing the bill on their own. Although the $3.00 differential may seem substantial now, it ultimately may serve to maximize the film’s accessibility to its ideal consumers without obliterating the bottom line.

Still not convinced? Hit play. Now.

[youtube id=”Z6DJSGrfNbk” width=”600″ height=”350″]

In conclusion, U.S. distributors, one of you should buy the rights to G.B.F. ASAP. K? Thx! Bye.

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The Author

Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.