Over the weekend, I was happy to see that amongst the first-run films IFC is offering on demand on Time Warner Cable is Hannah Takes The Stairs, the critically acclaimed indie hit that is currently the posterchild for the current "mumblecore" movement.
"That's a great idea, but it's never going to happen because it will upset our relationship with the brick-and-mortar retailers, and we can't risk that"
That was the common refrain I would hear time and again from record label executives ten years ago when we first launched electricArtists and were doing a lot of early innovative e-commerce promotions for artists like U2, Christina Aguilera, The Eagles, Garbage (my favorite band to work with) and so many others.
But that - "We have to protect the retailers" - attitude proved to be a big mistake for the music industry as it took less then four or five years for the power position to completely shift from brick-and-mortar record stores like Tower and Virgin to online outlets like Apple's iTunes. Those that moved quickly benefited from offering their records digitally. Those that didn't, are still hurting from their lack of seeing that the future was not in retail stores.
So I can't help but think the film industry is making the same mistake that the music industry did years ago by not offering first run films on pay-per-view the same day they are released in theaters.
It makes no sense to me that buzz generating independent films that are platform released in two major cities like New York and Los Angeles and may never make it into first run theaters in secondary markets aren't offered on pay-per-view when the film comes out in theaters. I can maybe understand why a blockbuster like Spiderman 3 might not make sense to show on pay-per-view the same day it opens in the theaters, but I can't understand why the 90% of the other films that aren't in the top five in the box office aren't.
It used to be that I would go to the movies at least two times a week. Now I'm lucky to go once a month. If even that. But at the same time, I'm still dying to see the films that are hot and that everyone is talking about. What I don't understand is why I can't see them, just like a boxing match on HBO, via pay-per-view the same day the film opens.
I asked me wife how much she would pay for a first-run film on pay-per-view the same day it came out in the theaters. The number we came to agreement on was $38.00. I'm not in the film business anymore, and I'm certainly not an analyst, but to get $38.00 from me now, rather than $3.95 from me later when the film is released on DVD is stupid.
The reason why I'm writing this now is that it's Friday night and I'd love to see Superbad tonight but won't. Am I staying home? No. Sara and I are going out for Sushi. By the time we finish it will be too late to see a film. We'll come back and probably watch a film on TV. And that film will be three months old. We'll pay $3.95 for it. On Monday, even if I love the film, I will tell absolutely nobody about it because it's "old news" .
As someone who loves first run movies, but is no longer going to the cinema, it just makes no sense to me that the film industry isn't being more pro-active in addressing my needs. I guarantee you that I won't see Superbad in the theaters. But if it was playing on Pay-Per-View tonight, I'd be happy to pay $35.00 or perhaps even more (depending on how much sake I drink at dinner) for my wife and I to see it tonight in the comfort of our own home.
"low-key naturalism, low-fi production values and a stream of low-volume chatter often perceived as ineloquence"
The interesting thing about the Mumblecore is just as the Cinéma-Vérité movement was connected to new advancements in technology (lightweight mobile cameras) so two is Mumblecore. The New York Times comments:
Mumblecore bespeaks a true 21st-century sensibility, reflective of MySpace-like
social networks and the voyeurism and intimacy of YouTube. It also
signals a paradigm shift in how movies are made and how they find an
Key filmmakers to watch in the genre are Andrew Bujalski, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Aaron Katz and Joe Swanberg.
For a quick taste of some choice Mumblecore, here's the trailer for Joe Swanberg's, HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS.