One year of intense round the clock, 24/7 focus on "Wal-Mart" had its opening week last week, and what a week WAL-MART WEEK it was. I'm neurotic, Jewish, and from New York, so I'm not pre-disposed to celebrations, but last week was AMAZING.
1. The film itself. An amazing team of folks worked their ass off all over the world, underpaid producers/editors/researchers and tons of volunteers. Between us all we got some amazing and powerful personal stories. The goal I set was to find the stories that would illustrate policy from Bentonville, and I think we found them, and more. From workers in Florida to former managers around the country, to family business owners in the Midwest to sweat shops in china. The personal stories gripped my heart, my soul and never let go for a year.
2. The alternative distribution. With Outfoxed and Uncovered we took steps towards this new model of using the internet to reach out to hundreds of thousands of people to screen wherever there is a television. This time we went further. Lisa Smithline started organizing BEFORE a single interview had been done. As a result, we had OVER 7,000 screenings around the country, many filled way beyond capacity. I spoke in Eugene Oregon to 700 people and here are a few reports from across the country:
Norwich: "Wow. At the Norwich Public Library last evening we had to close the doors and turn folks away!"
Milwaukee: "We were thrilled with the turn out and media coverage for our two screenings."
Portland: "Had a fantastic screening at Bridgeport UCC in Portland, Oregon on Saturday night... a packed house."
Flagstaff: "more then 800 people. ... standing and sitting in the aisles. We got another screening planned."
Madison: "More then 900 people waiting in line in the snow to see the film."
Wherever a screen exists, someone was showing the film. Hundreds of thousands of people were engaged in the real deal of democracy.
3. Getting media attention. Without any money at all, but with the smarts of a campaign with Ken Sunshine and Jesse Derris at the steering wheel and Jim Gilliam on the viral internet, we managed to create a storm of attention so that people heard about the film.
So I look back, one long year ago, and I see that the 3 parts did in fact come together... And what can I possibly say when I read the following from Santa Maria, California:
"At the premier the room was packed. The most crucial of the screenings was 48 hours prior to a city council meeting where slick Wal-Mart reps were coming to try and get the zoning code changed to allow for a 55 acre supercenter. Wal-Mart failed to get the council members approval with a vote of 5-0 against them! Thanks in no small part to your film, your alternative distribution strategy and dedicated locals like Bob Banner, our field producer here in San Luis Obispo, the city of Santa Maria is safe! (for the time being)"
The film is becoming the tool it is meant to be, going into the world and building the movement. Unlike traditional opening weeks, this one is just the beginning, and the fight will be a long and hard one, but with your help and support the film is touching hearts, changing minds and creating social change! Onward...
Robert Greenwald produced and directed Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price