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Director Ti West Says Pay For Movies, Don't Pirate Them, As VOD Sales Grow & Blu-Ray Purchases Slow

The Playlist By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist May 9, 2014 at 10:03AM

As an independent film’s opening weekend approaches, audiences are increasingly faced with a new consideration. What happens when you see the words “VOD and iTunes” next to a film’s theatrical release date, as with this weekend’s “The Double”? Does it not matter, or does it dissuade you from that multiplex ticket? Director Ti West has immersed himself in the issue since his first film “House of the Devil," and now he’s penned an update on the status of indie filmmaking as he sees it.
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Ti West

As an independent film’s opening weekend approaches, audiences are increasingly faced with a new consideration. What happens when you see the words “VOD and iTunes” next to a film’s theatrical release date, as with this weekend’s “The Double”? Does it not matter, or does it dissuade you from that multiplex ticket? Director Ti West has immersed himself in the issue since his first film “House of the Devil," and now he’s penned an update on the status of indie filmmaking as he sees it.

West first made his strong opinions public with a letter accompanying the release of his 2011 horror “The Innkeepers”, a film that found a small theatrical and VOD release. But now, with his latest effort “The Sacrament” hitting screens next month, he’s released an addendum to restate the importance of supporting indie film. While also calling out those who obtain indie movies through less than legal methods. Here's some excerpts of what he wrote, but be sure to read the full statement:

Paying for indie movies provides tangible evidence that there is a market for esoteric films, and that it's important they be financially supported - not necessarily for the filmmaker's bank accounts - but to prove to investors that there is in fact monetary value in all different types of filmmaking. It is about preserving sustainability.

The independent film world is a fragile ecosystem. It allows for unique experiences and challenging stories to be told by bold filmmakers in adventurous and often unproven ways. Studio films do not take the same risks. But this adventurousness, this ability to surprise us, is why we love indie movies. By supporting this ecosystem, we are supporting the possibility of original, rewarding experiences that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Ten bucks is not only supporting my movie. It is supporting independent film in general, and the platforms that audiences are seeing them on. I know that sounds grandiose, but it's true, and indie distributors have now come up with numerous ways to support their releases. If you see it on VOD, then you are saying YES, WE WANT MORE INDIE MOVIES ON VOD. If you see it in an indie theater, you are saying YES, WE WANT MORE MOVIES IN INDIE THEATERS (while we're at it, we want more indie theaters in general).

And in the off chance that you happen to see THE SACRAMENT in a multiplex, you are saying YES, WE WANT MORE INDIE MOVIES IN OUR MULTIPLEXES. It's a meaningful contribution. You are creating physical, financial evidence that independent film has value. This, above all else, does not go unnoticed.

West also argues that better distribution plans for films are coming, but he and other independent filmmakers need the time and support to pursue those ideal delivery systems. It’s an impassioned, articulate read, and you can catch the whole letter over on his site. No doubt, VOD has progressed rapidly since it was first introduced for theatrical releases, but a new study from Generator Research (via Computer World) clarifies exactly how much.

Taken last year, the study shows that revenue from DVD and Blu-ray sales will likely decrease by 38% over the next four years, while online movie revenue is estimated to grow 260%—$3.5 billion now to a projected $12.7 billion in 2018. In fact, it seems the best use for physical media might simply be storage, as Facebook recently revealed that they use a “cold storage” system comprised of 10,000 Blu-ray discs.

As we wait to see what new innovation will house Ti West’s next project, check out a new clip from “The Sacrament” below (via Crave Online). The film opens in theaters on June 9th, but you can view it now on VOD.

This article is related to: Ti West, DVD and VOD, DVD / Blu-Ray, The Sacrament


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