A24 Announces Billboard Screening Series: Public Access
Marshall McLuhan famously coined the phrase “the medium is the message.” At its most basic interpretation, it argues that what is being communicated is less important than how it’s being communicated. Perhaps with this idea in mind, film and TV production and distribution company A24 announced their Public Access series. They will screen six of their films on billboards throughout the summer in the cities in which the films take place.
They’ve released the following screening times and coordinates:
20 – Lady Bird @ 38°34’35”N 121°28’47”W, 8 p.m. (Sacramento, CA)
27 – The Bling Ring @ 34°13’7”N 118°27’59”W, 8 p.m. (Van Nuys, CA)
06 – The Witch @ 43°42’19”N 71°06’44”W, 8 p.m. (Ossipee, NH)
10 – Good Time @ 40°44’59”N 73°56’11”W, 7:30 p.m. (Queens, NY)
17 – The Spectacular Now @ 33°57’24”N 83°22’49”W, 8 p.m. (Athens, GA)
24 – Moonlight @ 25°50’49”N 80°13’6”W, 7:30 p.m. (Miami, FL)
Billboards (as a concept) were used by ancient Egyptians, though what we’d consider billboards today were introduced in New York City in the 1830s to advertise the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus. In their press release, A24 call the series a “celebration of the movies and the places they came from, hosted across the country on the most classic form of American media.”
Using experiential marketing for the film and television industry is nothing new, but this campaign does do several things to make it stand out. Projecting these movies onto billboards converges the long history America has with both the independent cinema and billboard mediums. The screenings take place in the same cities as the setting in the films they are showing. That fact, combined with the one single viewing opportunity, makes these events truly one-of-a-kind and immensely special. That’s the definition of experiential.
Finally, projecting these films onto a medium traditionally used to sell products calls into question the difference between art and advertisement. Is there much of a difference in today’s society? Isn’t it all “content” anyhow? Why does the medium matter? They’re showing movies on a billboard! The medium literally is the message here.
McLuhan aside, I’m genuinely excited at the prospect of booking a flight to Sacramento and watching Lady Bird in a small parking lot with other enthused fans. GoFundMe link forthcoming.