Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Attention, Ted Sarandos: Indie Distributors Have Something to Say To You

By Indiewire | Indiewire November 6, 2013 at 11:25AM

Eamoon Bowles, Tim League, Matt Grady, Richard Lorber, Dylan Marchetti, Emily Russo and Mark Urman talk Ted.
11
Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse


Matt Grady, Factory 25

There should be a separate conversation for Hollywood/big budget films and Indie micro-budget films concerning Netflix and Theaters. Out of all of the Digital/VOD outlets, I do believe that only Netflix could negatively effect Box office of Hollywood level films.

On the indie film level, releasing films Day/Date isn't such an issue as  people have developed habits on how they watch films and certain people will go to theaters and others will not, while some will watch on Cable VOD and others on iTunes or Fandor or Amazon or Netflix and the list goes on...I look at getting movies on Digital/VOD in a similar way as I look getting vinyl LPs into local record shops, try to make it available everywhere knowing that some shops/outlets will only sell a couple copies an others will sell many more with out much crossover in clientele. Also, since press outlets are only likely to cover a film once, having a multi-platform release is really best for films, allowing the film will be available while awareness is at a high.


Tim League, Drafthouse Films, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

First, let me preface my statement by saying that I respect Ted Sarandos greatly and am a fan of what Netflix has built.  That said, his comments feel a bit unfair.  He's asking theater owners to open up non-exclusive windows while at the same time making massive investments on exclusive window content for Netflix.  It's not really kosher to shame the theater industry for clinging to exclusive windows and then shift massive resources to develop exclusive window content for Netflix.

That said, I do wish more theaters would be open to supporting day and day releases for indie films. Alamo Drafthouse is one of the few exhibitors that supports the idea of day and date and even ultra-VOD windows.  I am a open to this for small movies by small distributors who don't have the budget for a massive national P&A spend.  We have proven that model can work for the right film.  For big movies with ample production and P&A budgets, however, Netflix doesn't have the customer base to offer a studio what they would need to sacrifice the revenue lost from theatrical exhibition.

I think Sarandos knows this isn't going to happen.  It might happen for smaller boutique movies, but not for THE HOBBIT or THOR. Ultimately the studios are going to make the decision that works for them and their investment.  With big budget movies being made for the worldwide market and that worldwide market being dominated by theatrical revenue (especially in Asia), I think the cinema industry is just fine.

If the studios ever develop a direct worldwide online subscription service for their content, then I think Netflix will be facing the same challenges as the cinema owners.  That is a scenario I could foresee sooner than Netflix doing a day and day release for the next AVENGERS movie.

People have been forecasting the demise of cinema since the advent of television.  It has been proven time and time again that cinema is not competing against home entertainment.  To paraphrase Ira Deutchman from his 2013 Arthouse Convergence Keynote address, a person make one critical decision on a Friday night: to stay in or to go out.  Cinema doesn't compete with the "stay in" options like Netflix, Redbox or even reading a good book.  It competes with dinner, bowling, rolling skating, going to a bar, etc, the "go out" options.  Provided the cinema industry can remain a fun and compelling option when compared to the "go out" options, we will remain a healthy industry.  Instead of worrying about what Netflix will do to our industry, I'd rather see NATO and all the big theater chains focus on our real challenge: make sure people have a fun time at the cinema.


Eamonn Bowles, Magnolia Pictures:

Theaters aren't going away and the economy for a large budget film premiering on Netflix isn’t really practical, so it's kind of a non-issue.

This article is related to: NetFlix-Studio, Netflix, Filmmaker Toolkit: Distribution, Filmmaker Toolkit: Exhibition, Ted Sarandos, News





Win The Complete Twin Peaks on Blu-ray from Indiewire! in Indiewire's Hangs on LockerDome


SnagFilms

Watch Over 10,000 Free Movies!

Shailene Woodley and Gregg Araki Talk 'White Bird in a Blizzard' at Soho Apple Store

More