'Repo!' Opera: A Genetically Enhanced Hit?

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Anthony Head as Repo Man i

Claims agent: Pay your bill, or Repo Man (Anthony Head) will come looking for your liver. Steve Wilkie/Lionsgate Films hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Wilkie/Lionsgate Films
Anthony Head as Repo Man

Claims agent: Pay your bill, or Repo Man (Anthony Head) will come looking for your liver.

Steve Wilkie/Lionsgate Films

A "cult" can be defined as a faddish, even an obsessive clan of followers for an idea — or a work of art.

So cults are coveted by many small films and small filmmakers, who know that inspiring one can extend the life of a movie on the midnight circuit or on DVD.

Just consider The Rocky Horror Picture Show: It's been shown continually in movie theaters since its release in 1975. That gives it the longest theatrical run in history.

Now along comes Repo: The Genetic Opera, a film that some have hailed as the new Rocky Horror.

Of course that "some" includes its creators. Which raises the question: Is it possible to engineer a cult classic? Or are fans the only ones able to bestow cult status?

In the audio version of this story:

• how filmmaker Darren Lynn Bousman pitched Repo to studio executives: "Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Blade Runner," complete with easy credit for replacement organs — and merciless repo men stalking those who can't make the payments.

• how Bousman, who directed three Saw sequels for Lionsgate, convinced the suits there was an audience: like Rocky Horror, Repo is based on a stage play with a strong following.

• why creating a cult hit is difficult to do: "Can you go in ... with the intention of creating what's cool?"

Plus, on Monkey See, NPR's pop-culture blog: How the Repo team is using the Web to help build an audience before the film's release.

Beth Accomando reports for member station KPBS in San Diego.

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