“The Promotion” Sept. 2 DVD release should help boost the comedy’s disappointing B.O. take

The filmmakers behind the locally-shot workplace comedy, “The Promotion,” are hoping that the film’s Sept. 2 DVD release will reach an audience that failed to turn out to the June-July theatrical run.

“The Promotion” is the feature directorial debut of Steve Conrad, who wrote “The Weather Man,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” and “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway.”

Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly play rival assistant managers jockeying for the top job at a chain supermarket. Jenna Fischer and Lili Taylor play the men’s wives, and Fred Armisen and Jason Batemen play their boss and a corporate trainer, respectively.

But even with that star power, “The Promotion” only grossed $400,000 in a six-weak release that peaked at 81 theatres?not a great return on the Weinstein Company’s estimated $6 million investment in the production.

“It was a small film and they did a platform release?there was never time for a big ad campaign,” producer Steven A. Jones said. “They’ll make a lot more than their investment back on DVD and cable. That’s my perspective?another perspective is that it’s a bomb.”

Jones said that Bob Weinstein “wanted an art house film when he started out. His initial discussion with Steve [Conrad] was that this would be his ?Sideways.’ But after testing [Weinstein] wanted it to be funnier. The marketing department didn’t know exactly what it was.”

The filmmakers did a round of reshoots in L.A. in 2007, adding Bateman’s scenes, among others. “The Promotion” premiered to an enthusiastic reception at the South by Southwest Film Festival last March.

“You’d have though the Beatles had shown up by the response we got,” Jones said. “Had they figured out who those people were” at SXSW “and marketed to those people, it would have done a lot more business. It seemed like a younger, internet-friendly crowd. The blogosphere was full of rave reviews.”

Jones’ producing partner Jessika Boyer referred inquiries for this article to a Weinstein Company representative, who referred inquiries a rep from Genius Products, the subsidiary that handles DVD distribution, who was unavailable for comment.

Jones and Conrad are developing “The Expanding Mailman,” an existential comedy Conrad adapted from J. Robert Lennon’s novel “The Mailman.” Jack Black has been attached to star and production company NALA Films had set an Oct. 13 start date here, but Jones was unable to confirm either cast or shoot dates pending ongoing talks.

Jones also produced “The Merry Gentleman,” star Michael Keaton’s directorial debut, which bowed at Sundance, and which he said is being tested now for a tentative winter release from Samuel Goldwyn.

The Midwest Independent Film Festival hosts a DVD release party for “The Promotion” Sept. 2 at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N. Clark St. Doors at 6 p.m., screening at 7:30. Conrad and Jones are scheduled to attend.