The upcoming film EASTER SUNDAY is the first feature film that its headline star comedian Jo Koy has ever appeared in. Despite being a newcomer to movies, Universal is betting big that Koy can marshal interest from his huge fan following, built over a thirty-year comedy career in stand-up. Universal execs were convinced by the success of Koy’s Netflix comedy specials. They may also have timed it right by releasing their new film in a period when there is very little competition.
Koy is employing innovative techniques to promote his film, including taking time out during his stand-up performances to instruct audiences on how to purchase advanced tickets for the movie. He asks audiences to scan a special QR code that will direct them to a ticketing page and enters anyone who does buy a ticket into a drawing to win tickets to one of the film’s premiere screenings. Initial results from the QR campaign are encouraging, with approximately one-third of the audience who attends his comedy shows scanning the QR code.
For Koy, who has a strong following among Filipino-Americans, the film is an interesting experiment in whether films like these can still succeed in theatres. Comedic vehicles starring popular stand-up comedians used to be commonplace, but more recently a sentiment has crept in that these films will only appeal to limited audiences and do not, therefore, justify a theatrical release. If Koy’s following turns up in numbers to EASTER SUNDAY, it may lead studios to reconsider the appeal of mid-budget comedies, which were once an essential ingredient in a healthy film calendar.