Greek Wedding success turns movie PR on its head

NEW YORK - 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' is the unexpected sleeper hit of the season, but the publicity team behind the independent film is dealing with some surprises of its own.

"I've never seen this happen before," said Rogers & Cowan EVP Jeanne Berney, who is handling publicity for the IFC-distributed movie.

Berney explained that 'Greek Wedding's publicity has been the opposite to the normal cycle of film promotion. Usually, small movies try to generate early interest with a campaign beginning months before the film's debut. Magazine editors and film critics are given screenings and profile opportunities, then shorter-lead-time media are approached. By the time the film actually hits theaters, PR is beginning to slow down.

With 'Greek Wedding', interest heated up months after the release, at a time when most independent features are heading to video. Some of that success can be attributed to R&C's publicity plan.

Part of the plan included screening the film at ShoWest, a trade show for theater exhibitors in Las Vegas that offers a single night for independent films.

That helped the film open on 108 screens in eight markets. But since its April start, Greek Wedding has grossed more than $80 million. It is now on more than 1,600 screens, and grossed $14.2 million over the Labor Day weekend to earn the number-two spot at the box office - an unheard-of advance for a five-month-old movie.

Now media outlets are rushing to play catch-up on the word-of-mouth success.

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