Bathory: Marketing a Central European blockbuster

    Distributors may find producer Deana Jakubiskova a tough negotiator, but her marketing vision has paid off: Bathory was the 2008 mega-hit in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

    Produced by J&J Jakubisko Film (www.jakubiskofilm.com), the company Jakubiskova owns along with her husband, Slovak auteur (and Bathory director) Juraj Jakubisko, Bathory (www,bathory.cz) made news well before its premiere, as the most expensive Central European film production. Originally projected to be in the 10 million Euro range, the film came in at over 15 million Euro. Jakubiskova says that was no accident. She believed that locals would be scared away by the film's budget, so she leaked the escalating real cost bit by bit to the press.

    But that's in keeping with her mantra that European films need to reclaim their place in European cinemas -- and not only locally. "It's important not to be afraid of big movies for Europe," she told FNE. "We have to treat European film like a blockbuster not a small art house movie." That neans large scale distribution to multiplexes."

    Jakubisko is negotiating to do just that with Bathory when it opens in Russia in June and in Hungary in the fall, Also on the horizon are a summer release in Serbia and a September release in Taiwan. She's in discussions with markets in Asia and Poland, and is strategizing a multi-territory Scandinavian distribution, beginning with a series of VIP screenings that started in Finland. Jakubiskova insists on a unified marketing approach, attributing the film's Czech and Slovak successes, at least in part, to "a careful publicity and marketing campaign." She delayed the Hungarian premiere in order to create a stronger marketing campaign there.

    Looking to innovative marketing strategies, the producer is preparing a commercial line of Bathory products in keeping with the film's aesthetics. And Jakubiskova is not letting go of last year's Czech and Slovakbox office success, either. This summer, Czech distributor Bontonfilm (www.bontonfilm.cz) will re-release Bathory, re-building interest in the film before its DVD release.