Harvey Weinstein has scored a first. He has succeeded in getting a movie shut out of theaters before it is even finished being made. In the past, he at least waited until the MPAA got a look at it. I can't wait to see the fit he will throw this time. Especially since the issue will effect the entire future of film distribution. With his recent announcement that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend will be simultaneously released on both Netflix (via video on demand) and IMAX (to theaters), Weinstein has just fired the biggest shot yet in the rapidly emerging war for digital distribution. The response has been incredible. The three biggest theater chains have all announced their intentions to not show the film. In turn, the parent company of the AMC theater chain, the Chinese firm Dalian Wanda, is hinting that they might also refuse to show the movie in China. Not since 2006, when Steven Soderbergh tried to release the film Bubble on the same day to both theaters and cable TV, has there been such a massive negative reaction. But Weinstein is extremely committed to pursuing the digital approach. Less widely reported is the current handling by The Weinstein Company of the British film One Chance. Before its national release on October 10, the movie is being made available on Yahoo! Screen. Viewer response to this movie has been slightly more positive than the critical reviews, and the advanced digital release just might create some positive word of mouth for the title.

Over and over again, the question keeps recurring. What's wrong with indie filmmaking? Depending upon which commentary you read, the answer is: Everything. OK, maybe not everything. Mostly just issues related to finance, production, and distribution. Also some questions about indie filmmakers themselves in regard to their perceived immaturity, narcissistic behavior, and general inability to listen to their elders. I have noticed a generational issue in some of these blog pieces. Some recent articles are actually well thought out and are must reads. For example, David K. Greenwald's piece on "Why Filmmakers Fail" is an essential bit of straight talk for the indie trade, especially item 2 on Greenwald's list (“FAILURE TO COLLABORATE”). Occasionally, some of these articles are instructive. Elliot Grove's list of the 16 Reasons Screenwriters and Film-makers Fail offers a good basic checklist of common mistakes. I especially like items 14 and 15 on his list. Yes, they are the same: “They don't consider other opinions.” This is good solid advice that any number of us have trouble following. I know I do. I am a bit weak on that collaborative thing as well.

Proclaiming the death of cinema has become a popular pastime. Jean-Luc Godard has been announcing the death of cinema for over 40 years. So he was bound to be right eventually. Perhaps the time has arrived. Several years ago, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg warned of the end of Hollywood. OK, they were mostly focused on the current Hollywood business model and its possible implosion. Last Spring, Quentin Tarantino produced a stir at Cannes with his death of cinema pronouncement. However, he was mostly complaining about digital projection while having a nostalgic fit on behalf of old-fashioned celluloid. To be honest, Tarantino sounded as if he still used a rotary phone and an old Philco TV set. Now, with his recent lecture at Pietrasanta in northern Italy, British filmmaker Peter Greenaway gives a much more detailed and provocative argument for the end of cinema. In some ways, Greenaway's remarks are closer to the Lucas/Spielberg perspective. But he goes much further. It isn't just the business model that is broken. It's everything. Specifically, Greenaway is focused on the greater aesthetic changes taking place due to the digital revolution. The traditional movie theater is fading from its importance. The concept of the screen is changing as the standard movie model is replaced by multiple types of “screens,” from laptops to smart phones. The entire model of production and distribution is evolving

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