Has great TV stolen the independent film?


I went to the movies for the first time in three months a month. 

This was perhaps my longest theater absence in over 30 years. I saw “The Gift.” It was creepy and solidly entertaining, even if not iconic or groundbreaking, and deserved my full uninterrupted attention.

The air-conditioned theater felt nice, but I could count the number of attendees on two hands. This made me feel oddly sad. There were endless trailers, ads and lastly a long PSA discouraging the use of cell phones throughout the movie. For me this piece was critical, not just to establish the “rules” for noisy neighbors (had there been any), but also for me as I have become increasingly and easily distracted by my own precious cellphone while watching films at home in front of a big screen on a comfortable couch.

Over the past ten years film box office revenue numbers have stayed at superficially consistent, as more expensive 3D films and increasing ticket costs have offset a decline in overall ticket sales and the closing of hundreds of smaller “art film” theaters. According to the Hollywood Reporter, tickets sales in 2014 dropped to a low not seen since 1995. This is a massively troubling statistic, but not at all surprising and I suppose not without a small silver lining: it’s called TV. And currently episodic television is often better and more accessible than today’s movies…

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