Unlike many filmmakers, Mark and Jay Duplass, those seemingly ubiquitous "mumblecore" mavens, are not precious about the theatrical experience.
They have no problem if someone watches one of their low-budget exercises in comedic awkwardness on a smartphone or laptop.
“Our films are about the faces and about the close-ups,” Mark Duplass added. “Would we rather someone watch it in the theater? Yes. But if they’re watching it on their phone, that means it’s the only place they’re interested in watching it, so that’s fine too.”
Consequently, it makes sense that their latest effort, “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon” will premiere on video-on-demand Tuesday, 10 days before it hits theaters. It will be available to rent on on DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon Fios and internet and gaming platforms like iTunes and Vudu.
The reason, the brothers say, is practical and economic.
“Mark and I were able to put our egos aside,” Jay Duplass told TheWrap. “This is a relationship movie — it happens to be a very good one — but it doesn’t have movie stars, and it’s not a genre film like ‘Paranormal [Activity]’, so there’s a limit to what it can do.”
Given the size of modern flat-screen televisions and the superior sound quality they offer, the brothers argue that little will be lost in the home-viewing experience. They hope that by making the film available prior to its theatrical release, word of mouth can build and encourage moviegoers to buy tickets.
Moreover, the Duplass brothers said they realized that their lower profile films like “Baghead” (2008) and “The Puffy Chair” (2005) play very well in metropolitan areas, but do not always translate into wide release.
The rollout for his film, they argue, is different from the ones employed for their most recent films “Cyrus” (2011) and “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” which boasted big names like Jason Segel and Jonah Hill.
They hope “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon” will show in 12 to 25 urban areas.
“It’s about being fiscally responsible,” Mark Duplass said. “We don’t want to push it on theaters if there are only going to be 20 people showing up there.”
By keeping costs low and exploiting newer distribution methods, the Duplass brothers believe they can continue making the quirky films that have become their calling card.
They won’t reveal the cost, but Mark Duplass says their latest collaboration was made, “for a lot less than one day’s catering budget on ‘The Avengers.’”
In “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon,” two estranged brothers (Mark Kelly and Steve Zissis) who return home for their mother’s birthday. Reunited, they decide to revive a 25-event athletic competition that they used to participate in as children — a grueling series of challenges that involves everything from laser tag to underwater breath holding.
Yet, the brothers say that the fiercely competitive siblings are not based on their lives, but inspired from a series of athletic challengers that their childhood neighbors used to undertake.
“Mark and I are not competing,” Jay Duplass said. “We’re aligned together with the goal of making a great piece of art.”
Well, OK, but they do admit that sometimes they like to face off against one another on the sports field.
“We’re pretty evenly matched at ping-pong,” Mark Duplass said. “There’s something about the green of the ping-pong table that really gets us feeling competitive.”