The most exciting thing is happening in film distribution: films are beginning to break free from theaters. Case in point: Freakonomics, a film based on the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dunbar. The film gets its premier on Sept. 3 not in theaters, but on iTunes. Theater goers will have to wait until Oct. 1st to catch the film. One of my favorite documentary directors, Morgan Spurlock, is among the 6 filmmakers who each contributed a chapter to the film, and I’m looking forward to finding out whether a film made this way is more – or less – than the sum of its parts.
The whole notion of releasing a film on a few thousand big screens – and withholding it from millions of other screens until it’s completed it’s run – is ridiculous for most films. Most films aren’t destined to be blockbusters, but they DO have niche appeal. And what better way to reach a niche than directly, online? Craiglist proved that for classified advertising a long time ago. And the same thing will ultimately prove out for movies.
Mark Lipsky, who spent many years in the film industry and recently relocated to Seattle, makes a compelling case that movie theaters will be dead in 10 years. As a filmmaker and as a film goer, I’m looking forward to that day, not because I hate theaters, but because I love movies.