clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Steven Soderbergh went all-in on social media to promote ‘Logan Lucky.’ Wrong decision, he says.

On the latest Recode Media, Soderbergh says that having online buzz doesn’t always translate to ticket sales.

If you buy something from a Vox link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Director Steven Soderbergh Rick Diamond / Getty

Steven Soderbergh says he doesn’t care where you watch his movies and TV shows: “I'm pretty agnostic about the venue,” he said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka.

But as he found out this year, it does matter how he tells you that his work exists. This year, he released a Nascar-themed cousin to his “Oceans 11” trilogy — the star-studded heist film “Logan Lucky” — but you might not have even heard of it if you don’t use Twitter.

“We spent, at my request, a hugely disproportionate amount of money in social media in the digital space as opposed to television” Soderbergh said. “In retrospect, I think that was a mistake.”

“I think the potential audience for ‘Logan Lucky’ doesn't really hang out in that space, and probably would have been better reached through a certain kind of television,” he added. “I think that audience also believes, if they don't see a lot of TV ads for the movie, the movie is not real.”

With a production budget of $29 million, according to Box Office Mojo, “Logan Lucky” grossed only $27 million in the U.S. during its theatrical run — in other words, it flopped.

You can listen to Recode Media on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Soderbergh said he learned from the experience that digital buzz and real-world ticket sales are two very different metrics, although he suggested that a different kind of movie could have succeeded with a social media-focused marketing blitz.

“People in the social media/digital space find that activity — circulating in that world, liking stuff, pushing it around, watching it — to be a pleasurable activity in and of itself,” he said. “It is a discrete form of entertainment for them that does not necessarily lead to buying a ticket to a movie.”

“The number of eyeballs that we got on all the content we dropped was ridiculously high,” Soderbergh added. “We were successful in that regard. What we learned was, people just like doing that to do it. Because if 1 percent of those people had bought tickets, we'd have made an obscene amount of money.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcastor wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.