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Tag Archives: Art House Convergence
For those of us who follow the politics of theatrical distribution in the United States, the recent controversy about Disney’s required terms for showing “The Avengers” struck a chord. The dynamics between exhibitors and distributors have always been fraught, and this is only the most recent example. John Fithian, the head of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), has publicly pushed back at Disney’s latest demands, but as Tori Baker of the Salt Lake Film Society points out, this is an issue that affects all exhibitors, not just the big chains. Her open letter to the art house community on this subject is reprinted (with her permission) below.
I have just returned from CinemaCon a few weeks ago and I am astounded by the volume and “billions” talked about at every corner of that event, from studios, from executives, and from those operating the larger chain for-profit cinemas. At one point someone used a great classic film as an example of something “lame” and proudly touted an action super-hero movie as “awesome.”
While the mission driven art house cinemas are not exactly playing on the same playing field, the issue of price fixing, as pointed out by John Fithian in his response to Disney, is a valid concern for us as well. Unfortunately for all exhibitors, the reality is that if ANY studio changes their terms or makes other demands, the entire food chain of studios, mini-majors and indies end up following their lead. It reaches the independent film world very quickly.
Those of you who have watched my Keynote at the Art House Convergence may not have have realized that in the interest of time, I ended up cutting out five pages of the planned speech–an entire decade of my experience founding and running Fine Line Features. Coincidentally, several months later I was asked to speak at the University of Michigan in a class entitled “New Line and New Hollywood Cinema,” taught by Professor Dan Herbert. Here is a video of my guest lecture, which fills in the missing piece of my Art House talk. Thanks to Professor Herbert for providing the tape, and to his class for what was a great session.
There is some interesting information in here about the politics of theatrical exhibition, and how that relates to the success of Sony Classics. Please comment and let us know your thoughts… (more…)
In my speech at the Art House Convergence, I talked a great deal about Don Rugoff, who was a crazy, arrogant, difficult genius, and was my first boss in the movie business. Given the impact the man had on the business, it astounds me that he is almost a forgotten figure at this point. Reid Rosefelt wrote about him back in 2011, and ignited my urge to share more of what I knew about the man. So for those of you who would like to know more about the history of independent film marketing, here is a bunch of material to chew on.
This first piece is an audio recording of a seminar that Don did in 1976. It was moderated by Julian Schlossberg, who at the time was a VP at Paramount and had a radio program called “Movie Talk.” You’ll notice that during the Q&A, some of the questions from the audience were not intelligible, so whoever put this tape together dubbed them in. This is a fascinating glimpse into Don’s way of looking at the distribution business, the exhibition business, and mostly about his unique take on marketing specialized films. This was the school I went to, where I learned just about everything I’ve used throughout my career. (more…)
Last week, a lot of eyebrows were raised when Steven Spielberg, of all people, predicted the ‘implosion’ of the film industry. Russ Collins, who is the head of the Art House Convergence among the many hats he wears, wrote the following as an email to the art houses across the country. With his permission, I am reprinting it in it entirety as a guest blog. It’s a must read for anyone contemplating the state of the film industry.
By Russ Collins,
CEO, Michigan Theater – Ann Arbor
Director, Art House Convergence
Artistic Director, Cinetopia Festival
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE IMPLOSION KIND
I am not a doom and gloom guy. However, it is tempting for older cinema artists (like Steven Spielberg and soon to retire artists like Steven Soderbergh or maybe it’s just filmmakers named Steven!) to see gloom in clouds of change. Change is hard. It frequently makes us feel discouraged or unfairly challenged. The shifting sands of change can cause us to see threats everywhere and feel the world as we know it will end. However, maybe we feel this way because it’s true. The world as we know it will indeed come to an end because change is the only constant, and creativity in art, business and all things is frequently born from what might appear to be destructive forces brewed from dynamic change. It is a defining story of living; a baseline truth, an ever repeating cycle of human existence that the Hindu religion represents so effectively in the story Shiva, whose joyous dance of destruction celebrates the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. (more…)
Below is the video of the keynote speech I gave this past January at the Art House Convergence, an annual event that brings together many of the independent art houses from all over the U.S. and with some representation from the rest of the world. I used the opportunity to give a kind of personal history lesson about the distribution and marketing of indie films, and to draw some lessons for the world we currently live in. A big thank you to Russ Collins of the Michigan Theater for giving me the opportunity to speak, and to Doug Tirola and his team at 4th Row Films for recording it.
These video originally appeared on Thompson on Hollywood, part of the Indiewire network.
PART 1: Don Rugoff and Unplanned Beginnings
Russ Collins, the intrepid leader of the Art House Convergence, a yearly conference of mission-driven community art houses across the country, gave the following kickoff speech for this year’s get-together. Read it and be inspired!
Welcome Address by Russ Collins, Director, Art House Convergence
January 15, 2013 – for the Art House Convergence conference, Zermatt Resort, Midway, Utah
Welcome to the Art House Convergence. Welcome as we celebrate the Brave New American Art House. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to gather here in Utah with colleagues and friends and, with strangers who will soon be friends, to execute the mission of the Art House Convergence.
The mission of the Art House Convergence is to increase the quantity and quality of Art House cinemas in North America. We hope you will help us pursue this mission by: 1) constantly improving your own Art House; 2) helping colleagues make their Art Houses better places for audiences to experience cinema art and 3) working to make all Art Houses serve as highly effective community cultural centers. (more…)
Here is a video created by Doug Tirola and his team at 4th Row Films for the Art House Convergence. For those of you who don’t know, this is an organization of all the mission-driven art houses from around the country every year. It’s one of my favorite event because I get to hang out with other folks who are devoted to showing movies of all types on the big screen. I’m looking forward to being there again this coming january. If you are involved with a local art house, you should be there too! Oh, and extra points if you can find me in my little cameo, being my usual cynical self.
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Comments after the break… (more…)
There has been a lot of discussion recently among the mission-driven, independent art houses in the U.S. regarding the transition to digital. The art houses are stuck between a rock and a hard place due to the cost of DCI compliant (studio approved) equipment that would be necessary to show such cash cows as “Black Swan” or “The King’s Speech” — equipment that the art houses simply can’t afford — while the vast majority of the real indie movies that they play are not available in that format. Further angst is caused by the sense that it is only a matter of a few years before there simply are no more 35mm prints available. In the midst of a lot of doom and gloom, Russ Collins, the Executive Director of the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor and a leader of the Art House Convergence wrote the following guest blog…
By Russ Collins
Maybe I’m just too much of an optimist. Instead of seeing digital cinema as a harbinger of Art House doom I see it as an exciting opportunity. Digital conversion AND the preservation of celluloid exhibition formats are, to me, soluble issues that will be most effectively addressed by “new model” community-based, mission-driven Art House cinemas. Digital cinema can provide wider, quicker access to both historic and contemporary cinema repertoire and is much more accommodating to local filmmakers. Additionally, we get the benefit of digital restoration on wonderful old celluloid movies. (more…)