If You See Only One Beaver Movie This Year …

Last week, a bonkers low-budget movie that was shot in black and white and has no Hollywood stars, packed a 200-seat theater on a one-night engagement at the IFC Center in Manhattan. Additional screenings were added.

Mike Cheslik, the film’s director, and Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, its leading man, don’t have Hollywood connections or sacks of cash. What the two 33-year-old friends do have that helped their film make a splash with its New York debut is a secret weapon that would make a shrewd old-school movie pitchman like William Castle tingle with envy.

We’re talking beavers. Big ones.

Two life-size beavers, actually — plus a horse, all played by humans — who took selfies with passers-by on the sidewalk and high-fived audience members in their seats before a screening of Cheslik’s frolicsome farce “Hundreds of Beavers.”

At a time when Hollywood and scrappy filmmakers alike are stressing over how to get butts into seats, Cheslik and Tews are counting on a live make-believe beaver fight — a marketing gimmick dressed like a vaudeville act — to sell their movie.

A scene from “Hundreds of Beavers.”Credit…SRH

Their gamble is paying off. A recent multicity tour of 14 theaters in Great Lakes states was almost entirely sold out, thanks in part to the movie’s robust, beaver-heavy social media presence.

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