At a time when so many studio films are the rave of the box office, it’s the independent films that need to be supported by audiences.
One week after the release of Transformers: The Last Knight, this week sees the following two indie films get expansions in their release: The Big Sick and The Beguiled. In addition, Baby Driver will go wide in 3,100 theaters tomorrow. It’s not an indie but the Edgar Wright film certainly feels that way. I still remember when Drive opened up in 2011 in just under 3,000 theaters, making just over $11 million that weekend.
I come from a city where indie films got treated like crap. It’s notably different in Chicago where you have theaters like the Music Box Theater, the Gene Siskel Film Center, and Landmark Century Centre Cinemas playing indie films in addition to AMC River East 21. While Arclight Cinemas in Chicago does play wider releases, they do have a Slamdance Cinema Club series playing this year. Some of the other indie theaters felt threatened that Arclight would take away films from them but it doesn’t appear to be the case although Band Aid did just move from Music Box to Arclight over the past weekend. Unfortunately, the battle for screentime means high-concept romantic thriller 2:22 is essentially a VOD title this weeekend outside of a release in three theaters.
I appreciate and support indie film. When I post my top ten movies from the first half of 2016, I would not be surprised if most of my list contains independent films. That being said, films not released yet but seen during the Chicago Critics Film Festival will likely get honorable mentions.
Studios are less likely to take a risk when it comes to stories that won’t sell in China and that’s a shame. Indie filmmakers have to turn to the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo just to get their work made and there’s still no guarantee it will find an audience.