There’s already been lots of discussion, much of it smart, about M. Night Shyamalan‘s statements at ShowEast against collapsing windows and the releasing of films simultaneously on DVD and in theaters, about the need to preserve the grand theatrical experience, the great collective hallucination of a film on the glorious large screen. You won’t hear it from us, though â€” we’re just going to be petty.
Shyamalan trotted out to the exhibitor’s convention to give a speech asking for "zero tolerance" on studios trying for day-and-date releasing, something most of the large chains represented there have already committed to.
First, Shyamalan said, "Story is king. Storytelling is an ancient
art form that has always been told to a group, and the reason is that
we need to see the story through each others’ point of view, like
sitting next to someone whose sense of humor is different than yours.
That’s the way we grow. We can’t disregard the effect we have on each
other when we see a movie. I make them for a room full of 500
strangers, not a singular individual who only has a life experience
like mine. That would be asinine."
Second, he proposed an economic motivation. "I’m out to prove that
not only is it the morally right thing to do, but it’s the financially
right thing to do," he said. "Even if you didn’t go see a film, and I
went and told you about it, you now benefit from my group experience.
Films have to exist in the world in their ideal form before you can
exploit them … (so) if chewing gum with a movie’s logo makes more
money than the movie, don’t get seduced by the chewing gum."
Oh, for fuckssake. Those "the Alfred Hitchcock of our time" comments have surely gone to someone’s head for that someone to wax so eloquent about the art of storytelling when that someone’s every film to date has rested entirely on some cheap-ass final plot twist. If you’re so concerned about the value of this "ancient
art form" then perhaps you could make films with more to them than the equivalent of a narrative jab to the ribs for a finale, Mr. Shyamalan. We clearly love collective moviegoing as much as anyone has, but Shyamalan’s comments, which also cover piracy concerns and various other ostentatious declarations ("Acknowledging that he had benefited from DVDs, he added, ‘‘The Sixth
Sense’ DVD bought my house. You know what? Take my house,’ a remark
that drew a big cheer from the crowd.") make us a little nauseated. Mostly because we feel that he’s full of self-important shit. But also because the day-and-date release format being championed by 2929 Entertainment and (our employer, so there goes our credibility) Rainbow Media is currently the providence of indie films that would never see the inside of a theater in much of the US â€” day-and-date is a means of better promoting small films, because the theatrical run serves as further promotion for the DVD/VOD, and marketing can be unified behind the simultaneous release rather than having a limited marketing budget spread over the two dates. We suppose in the end we’re sputtering for nothing as much as Shyamalan is â€” those theater chains wouldn’t carry indie films anyway.
Soderbergh plans eventually to cut the studios out altogether. This, he says, is what digital technology can unleash. "You’ll see named film-makers self-distributing their own films. That’s where this is going to go. If I can go to the bank and get money to make the movie, and in two to four years’ time the digital changeover has happened in the US and all the theatres are digitally projecting, I’ll just go right to the theatres and make a deal with them. I’m certainly going to pursue that."
Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE‘s got the list of the 58 countries/films up for the foreign language film Academy Award.