Yesterday afternoon during an exclusive media screening the production team behind the Internet-famous Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team presented a new 43-minute cut of the film set to debut on CNBC later this month. CNBC recently acquired rights to broadcast the film, meaning the number of people who have seen Sonicsgate online may soon be dwarfed by the number of people who've seen it nationally via the NBCUniversal-owned cable channel.
Sonicsgate is currently scheduled to air in primetime on CNBC April 27 and April 29. The new CNBC-ready version includes interviews with Shawn Kemp and Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament - both new features to the film.
"Any filmmaker would love the opportunity to have their film scene by a wider audience. This was pretty much a no-brainer," says Brown.
"It sort of speaks to our guerilla online release strategy," says Brown of attracting CNBC's interest. "We released the director's cut of the film for free online in 2009 and part of that strategy was just so that no matter what anyone at anytime could log on and discover it for the first time. Three years later people are still discovering it for the first time."
Brown also points out that the Sonicsgate debut on CNBC comes at a good time, with the NBA playoffs approaching and momentum building locally to bring professional basketball back to Seattle.
"[CNBC] reached out to us for this a full three months before Chris Hansen came out publicly, so I think it's not directly related to that at all," says Brown of whether current developments played a part in CNBC's interest in acquiring rights to the film. "But it's very convenient and nicely timed with all the momentum that we have going right now to try to build an arena here and bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle."
"I think [CNBC] just saw the political intrigue, they saw that it was more about business and politics than it really is about basketball," explains Brown of the network's interest, "so they definitely picked up on that."
Brown says the biggest impact of Sonicsgate so far has been re-energizing the Sonics' fanbase locally after the despair of losing the team. Now that the film is set to make its national cable television debut, that impact could become even greater.
"I feel like when the team left in 2008 people were extremely bitter and there was so much toxic energy around the NBA, and what we've done with the film has allowed people to sort of be proud to be Sonics fans again," says Brown. "I think it's sort of revived the Sonics' ghosts and given people a place to rally around bringing a team back."
"On a national level it's exposed a lot of things about pro sports' business model, and it's sort of a warning shot to other cities that this happened in Seattle and it could happen to your team," Brown continues, citing the current situation in Sacramento with the Kings as an example. "No matter how much fans want a team, there are forces greater than us that control there outcome. Passion speaks loudly, but money speaks louder."