Tuesday, June 9, 2009

So Long, Weinstein Company?

In the last few days, there has been heightened speculation on the Internet about the long-term viability of The Weinstein Company (TWC). The Hot Blog's David Poland offers a somewhat different perspective on the company's financial troubles than I've seen in most other places online. He notes that while some media analysts are painting the woes of the Weinsteins as a new development, the company was underfinanced from the start. Of course, a string of overpriced projects (Inglourious Basterds, Nine), underperforming films (Grindhouse, The Reader) and the broader credit crisis haven't helped matters.

I have to agree with Poland that, while some bloggers/critics appear eager to see the company fail, the potential downfall of yet another indie company is nothing to celebrate for those who hope to make (or make money from) lower-budgeted films. Nonetheless, it is just another indication -- in the wake of the recent downsizing and/or closing of Paramount Vantage, Picturehouse, Warner Independent etc. -- that the old methods of distributing niche films just aren't working any longer.

I am increasingly intrigued by the day-and-date experiments being tested by companies such as IFC and Magnolia. These companies release films via some combination of VOD (both on cable/satellite systems and on the Internet) and theatrical exhibition. It is worth noting that IFC was the most active buyer at Cannes this year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For more on these ventures, I recommend looking at the following:

Interestingly, what looks to be the most likely "savior" for indie films at the moment isn't the Internet or theatrical exhibition, but good ole cable. Significantly, the main companies involved in day-and-date distribution at present have investments in cable program services and cable systems.

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