Indie Films Vs. The Box Office

Although I’m not raving about the film My Life in Ruins this week, in general I usually see independent films. The stories are more compelling and the characters more realistic/quirky/unusual. There’s more depth and perhaps care that goes into an independent film. You are most likely not going to see a re-make of a TV show, a 1970s or 80s movie, or a sequel. It will be low budget and therefore everyone is invested in the project from the key grips to the caterers to the makeup artists to the screenwriter to the director to the actors.

I vehemently support independent film. I am a member and proud supporter of The Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Mass. I’m sorry some films do not get the chance to be screened in more theaters. Looking at the mixed reviews of My Life in Ruins and the number of screens it is showing on throughout the country, I do not think it will last that long. Although Transformers and Public Enemies do not open until near July 4th weekend, it’s the summer season [the season of mindless BLOCKBUSTERS] and if a film doesn’t hit that $100 million mark pretty fast, it’s out and on to the next one. I hope that is not the case. It’s very sad that a film does not have an adequate chance to earn an audience via word of mouth at the box office.

Sure I will go see The Hangover in the next few days [I’ve had a crush on Bradley Cooper since Alias] but I’ve already seen The Brothers Bloom, and Easy Virtue. I have yet to see Star Trek and Angels and Demons. [I thoroughly enjoyed the escapist Drag Me to Hell though]

My inclination is to see the independent film before I see the major release. Rudy y Cursi, The Girlfriend Experience and Away We Go are on my to-do list. It’s just my style and my preference. Indie usually means greater quality to me [Brokeback Mountain anyone? I took my mom to see it at Coolidge Corner Theatre on Christmas Day. I had already seen it once on opening day.] Of course in these economic times, shelling out $10 for a movie better be worth it so you have to analyze whether a movie is theatre-worthy or netflix material.

I’m lucky that in Boston, besides The Coolidge Corner Theatre, I have The Landmark Kendall/Embassy Theatres as well as W. Newton and Somerville which show indie films on a regular basis. The Brattle Theatre, Harvard Film Archives, and MFA Film (also a member there) run retrospectives and show classics, cult films, and indies.

As the huge conglomerate chain theaters [AMC, Regal, Showcase] take over and movies are being shown on three or four screens at half-hour intervals, if you want to see independent films in your city or town you need to:
ASK your local theaters to show the films you want.

When you see and like an independent film, tell friends. Call, email, twitter, use facebook, blog. Spread the word! Word of mouth is how a small film like Slumdog Millionaire made millions and ending up winning an Academy Award [besides also being an outstanding film].

Talk to the theater managers and explain to them that while The Hangover is really funny and Bradley Cooper is super cute, Easy Virtue might be a charming little film to balance it out. Doesn’t the theatre want more diversity in its selection of films? [No, it really just wants to make tons of money.]

Get all your friends to bombard the theater with phone calls demanding that a certain independent film that is coming out be shown at the theater or you will take a nice road trip to another town to see said film.

Join your local independent theater. You will get discounts, invitations to special events, and can feel great about keeping independent film alive and going.

Keep an eye out at local universities, museums, and libraries for showings of independent films.

If all this fails, boycott the theater and join Netflix. It has a decent selection of indies.


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