The future for independent films continues to look impressive, as their commercial viability has increased steadily over the last two decades. In a recent article from the Washington Times, Cary Solomon said, “faith-driven films have emerged as a market force over the past two to three years. The success of several of these films has proved the existence of an audience eager to see them and means the genre won’t be disappearing anytime soon.”
2016 was known by many as the year of the Bible (in films) and the successes were evident.
I’m Not Ashamed grossed $2.3M, God’s Not Dead 2 grossed $20.7M, Miracles from Heaven brought in $61.7M, Risen took in $36.8M. Perhaps most noteworthy, Hacksaw Ridge, a wartime movie about a conscientious (faith driven) objector was nominated for seven Oscars and won two of them. (boxofficemojo.com / imdb.com)
As studios cut back, equity investors have been moving into the independent film arena. Lately, falling salaries, rising subsidies and a thinning of competition have weighted the financial equation even more in favor of the investor. In addition, revolutionary changes in the manner in which motion pictures are produced and distributed are now sweeping the industry, especially for independent films.
The total North American box office in 2016 was $11.4 billion. The share for independent films was $4.1 billion, or 37.6 percent, of the 2016 total. Worldwide box office revenues were $38.3 billion in 2015. (MPAA)
Once dominated by the studio system, movie production has shifted to reflect the increasingly viable economic models for independent film. The success of independent films has been helped by the number of new production companies and smaller distributors emerging into the marketplace every day, while major U.S. studios maintain divisions dedicated to providing distribution in this market segment. In addition, there continues to be an increase in the number of screens available for independent films.
Investment in film continues to be an attractive prospect despite economic instability. Widely recognized as a “recession-proof” business, the entertainment industry has historically prospered even during periods of decreased discretionary income. “In mature markets such as the United States, the business can be more cyclical in the short term, driven by product, supply and distribution patterns,” National Association of Theatre Owners President John Fithian stated. “Great storytelling, memorable characters and an ever-innovating theater experience brought more people around the world to the movie theater in 2012 than ever before,” former Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), said in 2013 when announcing the release of the Association’s annual data report for the previous year. “It’s a powerful reminder of just how much movies matter not just to our culture, but also to our economy.”