Crucial part of the pie
Cinema Release and its purpose to indie films and documentaries
While the world of media consuming is changing and the online revolution is being predicted pretty much everywhere, the truth is that movie watching seems to remain a robust pastime activity. According to Liesl Copland, a distributor from the WME agency, 71% of Americans watch a film a week, though majority prefers to watch films at home.
Big screen audiences still exist though, and the figures look relatively healthy for the past 5 years. Globally speaking, box office revenues are actually increasing and in 2014 they were 36.4 billion US dollars.
Mainly the increase is explained by the international studios’ successful blockbusters as well as the growing numbers of cinema screens in China.
Docs are still released but in a lesser number than in their heyday around early 2000’s. Their audiences have stayed loyal, but migrated to new platforms such as Netflix and DVD rental, resulting in documentary BO revenues declining.
In a movie rental sphere docs are doing great thought. According to Liesl, distributors can expect up to a 400%-500% DVD revenue compared to revenue from theatrical release. This is significant when compared to the case of indie fiction films; the DVD revenue turnaround is usually about the same as theatrical revenue, or sometimes less, closer to 75%.
Surely partially the phenomena is explained by the overall small scale revenues that documentaries tend to make from cinema release. But why to go through with it, when DVD and online sales seem to work better for documentaires?
Brian Newman, a distribution strategist and founder of Sub Genre, a film business consulting company, believes firmly that theatrical releases will grow in importance during the upcoming years.
“Theatrical (release) remains a crucial part of the pie”.
He continues to explain that even though the expansion of online platforms, the press and critics still pay undue attention to theatrical releases over online.
“You simply can’t get the buzz and attention you need unless you have a theatrical (release).”
But in addition to the hype, Brian stresses that as people begin to find the online overwhelming and its content too much of the same, the audiences will begin to seek out for more genuine experiences, like going to cinemas.
“I expect we’ll begin to see a small uptick in younger audiences over the next few years as more of them seek something more rewarding than their cellphone screens.”
Publicist Adam Segal, from the 2050 Group, stresses the appeal of cinematic release to draw together deals on other more business oriented areas of distribution.
“Over and over again, we have seen the the power of using even a very limited theatrical release, to help feed into and perhaps even boost the prospects for a more lucrative iTunes, VOD, DVD deals and private screening circuit runs (including universities and organizations). Publicity can create these circumstances.”