We have to reach into the world of hip hop to come up with an analysis of the films theatrically released in 2016. As Public Enemy would say “Don’t believe the hype.” At every major film festival, any many of the minor ones, a buzz starts about the “hot film” that’s a must see and a guaranteed award winner come end of the year. Everyone gets hot and bothered and starts repeating this statement which most likely originated with the publicist or sales agent. (I have been both and write mean ad copy for lazy journalists.)
With the 800 pound gorillas of Netflix and Amazon vacuuming up all worldwide rights, distributors begin to panic and overpay (drastically in some cases) for a film they’ll never make their money back on. When they blow through their finances chasing a box office hit (theatrical is expensive), we’ll get to add them to the pile of defunct distributors from years past (Atlantic Releasing, Hemdale, Lot 47…this list can be pages long) whose libraries got absorbed by rights brokers who are then acquired themselves to the point that older films have suddenly fallen from active distribution and no one can find out who the current rights holder is. Please do us all a favor and at least update the current distributors list on the film’s IMDB page. You’re a business person, a sale most likely will come from this.
More and more film critics are losing their minuscule paychecks as reviews are not being run by whatever newspapers have not gone under yet. If they get paid it’s probably the same amount they got paid 10+ years ago. As the older film critics are dying off, or being forced out most likely to cut a salary line, the next generation of film critics is bubbling under the surface as “bloggers” who will work for free or peanuts not realizing that when they are older the same thing will happen to them (at this rate it’ll be less than a decade).
A handful of organizations have started setting up “training programs” for wannabe film critics. In reality, like the Comintern, what they are trying to do is control the writers by indoctrinating them early so like lap dogs they do what they are told to do. Everyone is so afraid of not getting access to a screening that they bend themselves into pretzels to comply with arbitrary corporate policies (usually put into overdrive when the films are dogs or are the mega blockbusters everyone wants to see). Many of the distributors have no idea that the screening rooms they pay good money to rent are usually less than half full. I personally want every seat full to get my monies worth and not anoint select critics with access if I think they’ll write good things about my film.
Some editors (you know who you are) tell distributors that they won’t review the film opening in their particular market if an ad isn’t placed in their arts & leisure section. Many smaller market theatres use a booking agent to tell them what to play, usually everything they put into the other theatres they book for, without considering the specific demographics and interests of said market. There’s one booker whose clients can’t even get them on the phone (personally, I’d fire them). If you’re not a major company, a small distributor gets about 35% of the box office (vs. 50% or more). On top of that they have to pay a Virtual Print Fee to the theatre like the majors do. (At what point are those digital projectors paid off? It’s like the old Bell Telephone hustle.) Many theatres, taking as their model the supermarket industry, are now demanding payment to put up posters in the lobby or run trailers in the weeks leading up to the opening. How about cutting distributors in on the concession sales then? Does anyone know how to market anymore?
Top 10 Films Of 2016
Love & Friendship [Ireland/France/Netherlands]
Miss Sloane [UK/France]
Boom Bust Boom [UK/Netherlands/US] [Documentary]
Himalayas [South Korea]
I Saw The Light
Touched With Fire aka Mania Days
John Madden (Miss Sloane) – Best Director
Denzel Washington (Fences) – Best Actor
Catherine Frot (Marguerite) – Best Actress
Amitabh Bachchan (Wazir aka 64 Squares aka Move 5 aka The Last Square) – Best Supporting Actor
Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures) – Best Supporting Actress
Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship) – Best Screenplay
Roger Deakins (Hail, Caesar!) – Best Cinematography