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The story below was originally published on Theo’s Roundtable, for which I am contributing writer.
Roughly four years ago—this month, actually—I had a conversation with a gentleman that would follow me to this day. The gentleman was a high-ranking individual with one of the premier theater chains. We were discussing the theatrical release of my first film, April Showers, which his company had graciously agreed to book in several of its digitally-equipped theaters. I should clarify: They had agreed prior to our conversation.
The gentleman had called me quite upset because he had heard through the proverbial grapevine (I think it might have been The Daily Variety) that I had also inked a deal that would place my film on iTunes and Amazon within a week of its theatrical release. He was upset because it was implied his company would have a minimum 90-day exclusivity before any and all home-video exhibition took place—this included the Internet. I disagreed and even pointed him to the agreement, which in no way stated that his company be given a 90-day window. He insisted that it was how things were done. To which I replied, “Says who?” He then said something I’ll never forget. The gentleman said, “You, and people like you, are the harbingers of the apocalypse. You call yourself a filmmaker? You won’t be satisfied until we’re all out of business. People like you scare me. You scare me.” He then, in not so many words, told me his theaters would not be showing my film and he hoped others who had agreed would drop me as well. Then he hung up, and we never spoke again. My film would not play his theaters, nor any of their affiliates, though it did still enjoy an 18-screen theatrical release that spanned from New York to Los Angeles.
Fast-forward to today, and to fellow writer Brian Beatty’s article: “The Big-Screen Feature Film, Our New Fabulous Invalid.” In it, Beatty states—and perhaps rightfully so—that I am claiming that Hollywood and its antiquated system should be put to pasture in order to allow for new methods of distribution to rise up and become commonplace. This view of my views would seem true, especially given the story told above, and yet it couldn’t be more wrong. You see, I’m not what I’d call the harbinger of the apocalypse, nor am I a friend of the devil. I am but a fan of movies. I love movies. I love everything about them, even bad ones. I love the idea of movie theaters, though I may not love them in practice. But everything I stand for in regards to distribution and exhibition, be it at the commercial level or home, isn’t in preparation for making either extinct, but rather better.
I don’t want movie theaters to die, but I do want there to be fewer of them. I don’t want films to stop being made for theatrical exhibition, but I do believe not all films need to be seen in commercial theaters. I love streaming and other Internet-based services, not because I want to see quality levels dropped to appease the lowest common denominator but because I believe in connecting with an audience by any means necessary.I don’t like discs because I feel they’re wasteful and antiquated. I think 4K is stupid, just like 3-D, but not because it doesn’t have its place or isn’t better but because it’s being sold not on its merits but on its hype. I push for day & date release windows because I believe they will make both commercial cinemas and home cinemas better.
Nothing is compartmentalized anymore. Whether you believe that to be a good thing or bad doesn’t really matter. It’s just…
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