Indie Films in Hollywood: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Indie Theater Image from Brandon Cirillo’s PhotostreamBy now you’ve probably already read the Wall Street Journal’s take on the state of independent film in Hollywood. If you haven’t, I’ll sum up: Hollywood studios are finding that lower budget indie flicks are not paying off at the box office. No matter how many movies you make (and it looks like they’re making quite a lot of movies), there aren’t any more screens to show them on than there were before. Small movies, no matter how star-studded, aren’t inspiring people to amble on over to the multiplex.

As someone pointed out at the always fabulous Boston Media Makers session Sunday morning, the movie industry is just catching up to the same issues that have plagued the music industry for years.* I think that’s a pretty fair summary of the situation. The old ways of doing business are not as profitable as they used to be. The WSJ focuses largely on the financial problems this creates, but I’m also wondering how this will change the storytelling landscape.

If funding is drying up for people who want to make small family dramas and slow-paced coming-of-age fables, where else will they go? Are viewers genuinely uninterested in smaller stories, or are they just getting their fill elsewhere? Television seems to be flush with nuanced drama, and fascinating things are happening with graphic novels these days – not to mention the rapidly evolving universe of web-distributed film. Is the feature-length indie film never again coming to a theater near you, or is it just in hibernation?

*I cannot recall who said this at the meeting, please comment if you remember!

2 Replies to “Indie Films in Hollywood: Too Much of a Good Thing?”

  1. Great takeaway from the Boston Media Makers talk. It is true that making money in film has headed in the direction the music industry has in the last five years. The monster corporate production companies make it difficult for independent films to get the exposure they need to be successful. What is interesting is the new distribution channels that are popping up for independent films to get exposure.

  2. Great points. I agree that there is a lot of interesting stuff going on in new distribution channels, but I think that there is the potential for indies to make a resurgence (albeit, a small one) with the spread of digital projection in cinemas. If you don’t have to commit to processing a reel of film, you can distribute digitally for limited runs in theaters that typically show larger films.

    The question still remains: how does an indie producer generate interest in their film when its theatrical release is such a small window?

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