By Geoff King; Dawson Books
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An opening of this kind is another crucial source of reviews and further building of proﬁle and the word-of-mouth recommendation or ‘buzz’ that remains the most important factor in the success of all commercial ﬁlms, whether those of the independent sector or the Hollywood mainstream. New York openings are especially favoured, providing access to key critics from nationally circulated publications such as the New York Times and Time magazine. Release is then widened, gradually. In some cases, the second tier is a larger number of theatres in the initial market/s.
68 The following year, Berney played a central part in the substantially larger box-ofﬁce triumph of another feature that was turned down by almost all the indie distributors, the more conventional comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). It was eventually picked up by the newly created IFC Films, headed by Berney, in a deal in which the ﬁnanciers paid for prints and advertising, and went on to take an extraordinary $241 million in the USA alone, overtaking The Blair Witch Project as the most successful indie feature in history (the total including overseas box-ofﬁce and video/DVD is put at some $600 million).
The preceding year witnessed a big move into the independent sector by the Hollywood studios with the takeover of New Line and Miramax by Time-Warner and Disney, respectively. The implications of that development will be considered below. First, however, a closer look is needed at some of the distinctive marketing and distribution strategies that have characterized the indie scene. Marketing and Distribution Strategies Since the mid 1970s, Hollywood has moved increasingly towards a marketing and distribution strategy based on very wide releases of ﬁlms accompanied by heavy television advertising.
American independent cinema by Geoff King; Dawson Books