This fall, legendary cult-rock band THE FLAMING LIPS, Warner Brothers Records, and film company Cinema Purgatorio finally bring the long-awaited CHRISTMAS ON MARS: A Fantastical Film Freakout Featuring the Flaming Lips to offbeat venues across the country. The companies have carved an innovative deal to book CHRISTMAS ON MARS into rock clubs, stage theaters, museums, and select movie theaters across the country. This continues the Flaming Lips’ own presentation of the film at rock festivals and a film festival this summer. Within the next three months, CHRISTMAS ON MARS will show in at least fifteen cities, and probably many more. The film will be released on DVD on November 11th, 2008. The Lips’ score to the film will also be available on CD.
CHRISTMAS ON MARS opened theatrically in New York City on September 12, 2008, presented in a custom-designed cinema at the KGB Complex at 85 East Fourth Street, screening in high-definition video and the custom designed Zeta Bootis Mega Supersonic Super-Sound Surround System, which The LIPS created for the film. CHRISTMAS ON MARS will screen at unusual show times, the first of which have been have been announced (and some have already sold out) on http://cinemapurgatorio.com/. Show times will include 7am and 9am screenings, so audience members can go to Mars before they get to work, as well as some traditional evening show times.
CHIRSTMAS ON MARS is the directorial debut of Wayne Coyne, lead singer and front man for THE FLAMING LIPS. Coyne co-directed with George Salisbury, an audiovisual technician who works with the band. Coyne constructed much of the set – representing Mars – in his Oklahoma City backyard. The film does indeed take place during Christmastime on Mars, as the colonization of the Red Planet is underway. But when an oxygen generator and a gravity control pod malfunction, Major Syrtis (The Lips’ Steven Drozd) and his team (including the Lips’ bassist Michael Ivins) fear for the worst. Syrtis hallucinates about the birth of a baby, and many other strange things. Meanwhile, a compassionate alien superbeing (Coyne) arrives, inspiring and helping the isolated astronauts. Also appearing in the film are the band’s road drummer Kliph Scurlock, manager Scott Booker, and many other familiar figures from The Lips’ community.
In production since 2001, CHRISTMAS ON MARS finally premiered in May at the Sasquatch! Music Festival in Washington State. Two weeks later, The Lips screened the movie in Oklahoma City, during the deadCenter Film Festival, within a revivalist preacher tent under a storming sky. Before the screening began, the audience sat in total darkness within the tent for half an hour, as the storm passed over head. “In attendance at that screening was Cinema Purgatorio’s Ray Privett, who had come to see the movie and to carve out a deal. Privett has been a fan of the Lips since the 1990s; in 2005, Privett had presented the documentary THE FEARLESS FREAKS FEATURING THE FLAMING LIPS at New York City’s Pioneer Theater, where he then worked. After two months of correspondence, THE FLAMING LIPS, Warner Bros. Records, and Cinema Purgatorio have finally made an arrangement.
“I am thrilled and honored to work with THE FLAMING LIPS on this amazing project. I have been tracking this movie for a long time. Finally this summer, FEARLESS FREAKS director Bradley Beesley put me in touch with The LIP’S manager Scott Booker, a famously visionary manager from whom I have already learned a lot. With a lot of hard work, Scott, Warner Bros., and I carved out an eccentric approach to sharing the film with THE FLAMING LIPS fans and others across the country. We have many challenges – after all, this is a (mostly) black and white science fiction film, in high-definition video, made by a rock and roll band. However, with our combined efforts, and also the Lips’ amazingly supportive fanbase – it’s gonna be awesome.”
In addition to some traditional outlets, screenings of CHRISTMAS ON MARS will be promoted largely through online social networks, including Facebook, MySpace, and Last.FM. Tickets will be sold almost exclusively in advance online, with additional screenings added as sellouts are achieved. Cinema Purgatorio will announce new show times; track those announcements by adding the Cinema Purgatorio RSS feed ( http://feeds.cinemapurgatorio.com/cinemapurgatorio, subscribing to the mailing list (http://feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedld=1729123 ), or joining the Cinema Purgatorio Facebook group ( http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7724348890.)
Ray Privett established Cinema Purgatorio in 2007. Privett has ten years of experience working with filmmakers, producers, and venue administrators to find unconventional ways of reaching today’s film audiences. For four years he was distribution coordinator at Chicago’s Facets Multi-Media, and four years as Programmer and General Manager of the Pioneer Theater in New York City. Recently Cinema Purgatorio collaborated with the International Film Circuit and Kino International on the release of four films made by Lech Majewski, the artist and filmmaker honored in 2006 with a rare, full mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Two other upcoming projects are with writer and director Victor Varnado: The Awkward Kings of Comedy, a documentary about nerdy African-American comedians; and Roboto Supremo, a giant robot movie featuring Be Kind Rewind filmmaker Michel Gondry as the mayor of Final Tokyo.