“A run of
was Hollywood’s worst at the box office in a decade,
be your only
despite rising ticket costs and a flood of big-budget
superhero sequels and spinoffs.
Still, many festivals have embraced the option of
streaming their content to generate attention for future
festivals. Toronto, Tribeca and Sundance have all created relationships that allow a handful of choice films
to stream via on-demand services, including Netflix,
Amazon and Hulu.
As belts tighten on larger theater chains because of
streaming services, the message for festivals seems to be
the reverse: If you like what you see here, you can see it
earlier, sooner and bigger by attending a festival.
And that only includes films that are picked up for
And you can’t always depend on the streaming services to
distribution; many aren’t. For independent filmmakers,
major studio backing is a dream, but it’s not a realistic
one. A run of festivals may be your only theatrical
presence if your picture is small and doesn’t wow the
right critics immediately.
pick up great films the studios ignore. This year, both Netflix
and Amazon left Sundance without purchasing a film.
Those that do get backing frequently end up in lim-ited-city engagements, largely because the audiences just
won’t fill theaters for small films. With empty theaters,
a theatrical run is often not worth the cost. That means
the stakes are higher for films, but it also means that avid
filmgoers continue to get an added benefit from attending festivals — one they’ve always gotten — exclusivity.
Efforts like Lift-Off aren’t here to undercut that experience
of seeing films first and exclusively— they’re just trying
to bring the experience to more people in more places, like
a band adding touring dates. And following your favorite
films around the world sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? [
Left: The making
of a short film for
David Lean on the
set of Lawrence
of Arabia, 1962.