Sunday, November 09, 2008

indie film distribution related thoughts while attending warner theatre in dc

since i will be dragging ms. amanda to see zack & miri later this month, i allowed myself to be dragged by her to see cassandra wilson & band perform at the warner theatre in dc tonight. good show. but, being a filmmaker, i was also interested in being in what must have been a movie palace of the 20's or 30's - a super gigantic & ornate movie theater with deco stylings. the venue was packed - several hundred people - maybe over a 1000 to 2000 people - and i think the cheapest tickets were like $50 or so (i didn't have to pay - another good thing about the outing tonight :). so, with those numbers - i am sure the event brought in a nice amount of $s. in a way the concert was similar to a specialty film screening or a film festival event - people who were really into the artist went, knew about the event, and payed good money to be there, & enjoyed the event. i can see certain films & filmmakers of the future employing such a distribution strategy - a film only playing in one venue in the country at a time, with filmmaker in attendance, plus other perks, and ticket prices much higher than at a regular movie theater show. could be an interesting addition to the film distribution arsenal to some filmmakers - special screening event tours.

for a film that is not being widely distributed, there is no reason that the ticket price has to stay around the $10-$12 range (or $9 in some parts of the country) - since the product/presentation is a rarity. if a filmmaker with a following wants to, prior to releasing a film widely, he or she could try to do several special event screenigs for his/her fans - at maybe $25 - $50 or so per ticket. i know that if i heard that jim jarmusch or hal hartley or another one of my fave filmmakers were going to do one screening in my city of their new & yet unreleased film & they would be attending the event & the tix cost $25 or so per person, i'd go (even though the tix price is much higher than at regular movie screenings).

i guess the big idea of the night is that limited/specialty film distribution does not necessarily have to follow mall megaplex pricing guidelines. specially since that eventually the movie will be available for all on DVD for a few dollars anyway. so, maybe such "unique" films could do some kind of a special events tour (with high tix prices) prior to getting released at regular theatrical (with normal tix prices) & then going to DVD, etc.

if a filmmaker were to do several nights at warner theatre size venues in various cities with tix at $25-50 per person, i bet quite a bit of the $s spent on production can be recouped (let's say for an under $1 mil indie feature).

just a thought.

- sujewa

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