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Independent Distribution In America Is Seriously Threatened
By Ted Hope
And the reason is because independent exhibition is even more seriously threatened. This is likely the last year of 35mm projection and the problem of that goes much deeper than whether you appreciate grain or not.
Sure the promise of digital projection & delivery is partially lower costs, but the cost of conversion is out of reach of many small exhibitors. The funding scheme that many theater chains have utilized, instituting in a Virtual Print Fee (VPF), puts the financial return in jeopardy for indie films — we could not play DARK HORSE in theaters that required a VPF because after the film rental split, another $800 in VPF risks having us not just not make money, but lose money.
The studios all require the theaters to be DCI compliant. The cost of being so is out of reach for smaller theaters. Yet, the studio, and their specialized subsidiaries, represent such a large share of the box office, theater owners have to consider this move. But if distributors don’t want to lose that $800 that goes to the VPF, can the same theater offer projection on one of the many cheaper systems. Why not? Because evidently the MPAA went to The Supreme Court and got them to approve an exception to the anti-trust laws and require all the theaters to sign a no-compete clause and use just a single platform. This sucks and is not what I expect from a country that prides itself on being the “Land Of Opportunity”.
A former intern of mine, Ricky Camilleri, hosted a great conversation on this topic on HuffPostLive. His guests include
- Chris Kenneally, the director of Side By Side, Grant Schulte, author for the AP who wrote this:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/movie-theater-closings_n_1860597.html,
- Jenn Jennings who worked with Michael Moore for some years and is now making a doc about the closing theaters and
- Randy Lizzio, owner of the small Onarga theater in Onarga, Il. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1225649467/save-the-historic-onarga-theater-from-closing
Here it is that discussion non-live.