The recent Academy Awards may have exhibited Hollywood’s robust health, but the current state of independent film is not so rosy. Andrew Rodgers reports for Soma (article not available online) that the world of independent film in fact experienced a seismic shift in 2008, as a number of indie distributors either shut down altogether or were folded into larger parent companies.
Rodgers hypothesizes two causes: 1) as independent film distributors became more successful, they neglected indie business practices that spread risk over a variety of small projects and instead invested heavily in larger ones, thus increasing the impact of any individual box-office failure (in other words, they acted like big Hollywood studios); and 2) the economy, of course, as marketing costs rose and ticket-buying audiences declined.
Signs of hope include the emergence of smaller niche distributors such as Oscilloscope Pictures (helmed by the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch) and Chicago’s Music Box Films. Rodgers also envisions a future in which theatrical releases are only one small part of film distribution, as audiences increasingly receive content via online or mobile device downloads.