As I mentioned last week, I’m gearing up for another two-week run of The Last Lullaby beginning July 31. After this run, that’ll be nine weeks that we have been in theaters. I think that’s a pretty respectable accomplishment. Sure, I wish we had done better numbers in certain places, and there are a couple of changes that I’m now making to my approach, but 63 days in theaters? I’m proud of that. And hopefully there will be another stop or two before it’s all over.
I should probably clarify now that, in general, when I make statements here, they’re in reference to the independent movie world and not to Hollywood. The independent world is the world I’m working in, and the only one I feel halfway qualified to discuss. Okay, as I mentioned last week, we are facing major challenges right now. As IndieWIRE reported, “Hollywood seems to be doing fine… overall 2009 box office is tracking 10 percent above last year.” But Indiewood isn’t having such a stellar year.
Once again, according to IndieWIRE, “…at this point last year, the top five specialty releases… had grossed roughly $50.5 million (which was in itself a disappointment over the year prior). This year, that number stands at only $26.5 million.”
So why should you care?
If Hollywood movies are producing enough content each year to satisfy you, then you shouldn’t care. But if part of your movie diet depends on independent movies, then the statistics above should probably give you some pause.
In the last year or two, several of the key family-owned restaurants in the Shreveport area (where I live) have closed their doors. And it scares the hell out of me. I’ll eat a McDonald’s hamburger once in a while with the best of them, but I sure as hell would feel it was a generic existence if my only choices for food ended up being the national chain restaurants.
And, sure, independent movies aren’t going anywhere. In fact, you can find more of them than ever before on places like Netflix or on VOD or through digital downloads. But don’t we all agree that nothing compares to seeing a movie on the big screen in a dark room with a bunch of strangers?
At the rate things are going, we might risk losing the opportunity to see something other than Hollywood movies in our hometown theaters. We lost three major indie distributors last year, and already one of the major new players, Senator Distribution, has closed its doors this year.
All of these statistics definitely worry me, and I hope we’ll see the numbers go up again soon. Here are a couple of things that might make a difference:
1. Independent distributors and moviemakers coming up with better ways of marketing their movies.
2. Audience members pushing themselves to support independent movies in the theater, knowing that seeing them at home is simply not the same experience. You’re right, I can mail order a slap of ribs from the famous Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous restaurant in Memphis—and I like having that option. But nothing compares to being inside the restaurant, with a bunch of strangers, all sharing in the experience together.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors.