Will 2 Big Theater Chains Change the Acquisition Market for Indie Films?
On Feb. 10th, 2011 the LA Times reported that two big theater chains, Regal and AMC, are "close to launching a joint venture to acquire and release independent movies" with distribution veteran Tom Ortenberg at the helm. This report (if accurate) could mean higher acquisition prices for filmmakers - because there might be more competition - with the traditional distributors (like IFC and Sony Classics) having to bid against Regal/AMC for films at festivals etc. On the other hand, Tom Ortenberg (the person the LA Times says will be in charge of this new Regal/AMC joint venture) has built his career on never paying independent filmmakers what it actually cost to make their films. For example, in 2001 when Tom Ortenberg was Lions Gate Films Releasing's President, he famously told indieWire: "We believe the economic model for producing arthouse films is a limited one. We've had great success acquiring specialized arthouse films at festivals for a fraction of the production cost and so, I would argue, in general, that the better economic model for arthouse films is acquiring them at festivals." [Thanks to UCF MFA in Film student Jeff Lehman for catching this article in the LA Times.]