Over the past two weeks I have rented and watched two movies, Blood Father and Imperium, which had limited releases in theaters and are now available to rent on demand. Since there weren’t any movies that looked great in theaters I checked these out instead. I enjoy watching new independent movies this way since they were not playing in my area. Should more Independent movies release on demand while they are still in theaters? Would theaters even allow them to do this and still be played in theaters?
Theaters are not going to want a film to play on their screens if they don’t think people are going to come out to see it. If an independent film releases online at the same time they release to theaters, and theaters turn them down, then they run the risk of not getting the exposure of being in the theaters. I don’t know if this is really a bad thing. Smaller independent movies don’t make much money in the theater and it might be more advantageous to release films digitally and try and promote through those services. This also has a downside. There are so many movies which come out every week the new independent films which don’t have much buzz can get lost in the shuffle. I can spend an exorbitant amount of time browsing Netflix and Amazon Prime and may not land on an independent film because they don’t get pop up on my suggestions. This could an issue with online stores which allow you to rent movies digitally.
I recently heard a great idea on Collider Movie talk which might make releasing films at the same time doable. If a film is having a limited release in LA and New York let it also be released online for rental. Film nuts like me are going to search out and know about bigger independent releases. If I lived in a bigger city I would go, see them in the theater. Since I don’t and some limited releases never make it to my mid-west city it would be nice if these films were released to be rented digitally at the same time. Doing this would make the film more money and spread word of mouth. I have talked about Blood Father to almost everyone I know recommending they check it out because of Gibson’s performance.
I also think it would be easy for theaters to establish a blackout area. If a movie is playing in a theater within a certain distance from where the person lives, then it could be blacked out from renting it online. If major league sports leagues can do this, so can movie theaters and online stores. Fandango would be perfect to pioneer this type of project. They acquired a movie streaming service where you can rent and buy movies, and they already are a leader in online ticketing. It could work both ways for them. If a movie is not playing in your area, here go rent it from our streaming store. If it is playing, instead of renting these are the show times in your area.
I think the way we currently consume movies is changing. Netflix and Amazon Prime are starting to acquire the rights and produce movies on their own. Beast of no Nation was a fantastic movie to come out last year and it was produced by Netflix. Many theaters wouldn’t show it because it was released online at the same time as it was released to theaters. If Netflix would have tried the blackout idea, then it might have been played in more theaters and maybe more people would have gone out to see it. I think it is great that independent films are getting these opportunities from the streaming services and I hope it continues to give more freedom to artists to create the stories they want to tell.
People say Hollywood only makes remakes or sequels, but there is a vibrant independent film community which is producing original content all the time. I think allowing streaming services to release the films at the same time as they are in theaters could grow the popularity of the films. There were a few times this summer where I wanted to see a movie, but it wasn’t playing in my area. I would have gladly given them my money if it was only available for me to watch. The landscape of streaming and the way movies are viewed and consumed is constantly changing, and I hope it leads to more good films being made.
Let me know your thoughts and if you be more likely to rent a film in limited release on a streaming service or wait for it to come to your area.