Mike Birbiglia’s “Sleepwalk With Me” movie leverages old and new media to expand distribution

Mike Birbiglia’s film adaptation of his one-man show, Sleepwalk With Me, debuted at Sundance at the beginning of the year and has screened to critical acclaim at other festivals such as SXSW and Montreal’s Just For Laughs.

IFC Films has picked up the distribution rights to Birbiglia’s movie, with plans to roll out screenings nationwide beginning Aug. 24.

Birbiglia and his screenwriting team — which includes radio host Ira Glass, co-director Seth Barrish and Birbiglia’s brother, Joe — already have taken steps to ensure that Sleepwalk With Me really does reach a nationwide audience. Over the past few weeks, they’ve taken to Twitter, Facebook and the radio to spread the message to fans and encourage them to contact their local movie theaters.

It’s working. Take it from Birbigs himself. As early as July 25, he wrote on Twitter: “#BringSleepwalk is not only working, but also making local news. https://bit.ly/Q5TXCm  23 cities added! Keep tweeting!”

On the July 27 episode of This American Life on public radio, Ira Glass said this:

A program note, last week here on the radio show, we asked you to email, phone, or tweet at your local movie theater to ask them to book our upcoming film, Sleepwalk With Me. Thanks to you, we have now added 24 new theaters– nearly doubles the number of theaters that we’re at. We jumped from 34 theaters to 58, which means that we only need another — hold on, let me — 4,291 theaters to catch up to The Avengers.

You can see the trailer at our website. See it for yourself. The film was written and directed by and stars Mike Birbiglia based on a story that he did here on the radio. It’s sincere. It’s really funny. It killed at Sundance, came home with an audience award. We would love for you to be able to see the film with a crowd, which is the best way to see any comedy, in a theater. A list of where we are booked now and the phone numbers, email addresses, and Twitter handles of theaters near you where we want to be is at our website, thisamericanlife.org.

By this writing, they’d hit up 63 cities and 98 cinemas.

You can find a location near you via this updated list of Sleepwalk With Me screening locations and dates. If you want a cinema closer to you to show it, jump aboard this ragtag social-media mission and use the Twitter hashtag #BringSidewalk. Or call them like a normal person.

Here’s the official trailer. I’ll have more to say about my own thoughts on the movie closer to the Aug. 24 roll-out. Until then, roll the clip!

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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