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Repo! The Genetic Opera

Above: Anthony Stewart Head is about to repossess some organs in "Repo! The Genetic Opera"

Sarah Brightman in Repo! The Gentic Opera (Lionsgate)

When Darren Lynn Bousman decided to make Repo! The Genetic Opera he sensed the cult potential in its distinctive retro future Goth story.

DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN: In the future people can buy and sell organs on credit. However if you miss a payment and you are not able to afford that heart, it is the complete responsibility of the provider to repossess that organ.

CLIP Song Genetic Repo Man -- "...say that you once bought a heart..."

Bousman wanted to tap into an underserved audience just as Rocky Horror Picture Show had done three decades ago.

DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN: They are what I was when I was growing up in high school, the outcasts, the freaks, the alternative, the fringe and that's a huge, huge market.

But engineering a cult hit is difficult to do. David Glanzer is marketing director for Comic-Con International where many films have tried to assert their cult-worthiness. But Glanzer says if you look at The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it initially failed at the box office and then fans turned it into a cult phenomenon.

DAVID GLANZER It was so far out there that it was cool to be associated with that. Can you go in there with the intention of creating what's cool? That's a tough one.

But it's very different environment now than it was in 1975 when The Rocky Horror Picture Show came out. Now the Internet provides a powerful but still unpredictable marketing tool for filmmakers. Bousman has embraced the Internet because it costs him nothing but his time.

DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN: Every single night myself and the creators are on website in the chat rooms talking to the fans planning little stunts, figuring out what we can do as a grassroots effort to get the movie out there and so I think the fans feel a part of something because think about it you are talking to the director, the lead actor and the composer of the movie on a nightly basis on this website saying okay everyone print out ten flyers and go to ten different locations and convert ten strangers.

Beyond building a fan base, Bousman says, you need three things to make a cult film, beginning with a sense of camp.

DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN: That helps with any cult film, is that you have to be able to know that it's okay to make fun of yourselves and we make fun of ourselves in Repo and that's number one. And number two we haven't commercialized the movie, and that's another thing for a cult you can't commercialize the movie...and number three the other thing is just the casting of the movie. The casting is just so weird and out there and again non-commercial that I think that helps it.

Paris Hilton in Repo! The Genetic Opera (Lionsgate)

The diverse cast of Repo! features Alexa Vega from Spy Kids , Broadway star Sarah Brighman, award-winning actor Paul Sorvino, Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Paris Hilton. But what ultimately makes or breaks a cult film is fans, ravenous, devoted fans.

DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN: If you go to Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight on Saturday night you are not watching a movie you are watching an event and you show up there and people are dressed in outfits and you have this diverse group of people in the theater having fun, and there's this sense of community around the showing.

Bousman hopes to be building that community as Repo! The Genetic Opera opens this weekend in San Diego for a pair of midnight screenings. Landmark will host a costume contest and giveaway December 12 and some of the filmmaking team will be present for the December 13 show. &

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