Burns says on-demand key for indie filmmakers
TORONTO - Indie director Edward Burns says he's become increasingly reliant on video-on-demand services to promote his filmmaking ventures.
The "Saving Private Ryan" actor says fickle audiences have made it harder to make money with a theatrical movie release.
That's why his newest film, a relationship comedy called "Newlyweds," is skipping the theatres altogether to be part of Rogers' on-demand pay per view service.
The film is part of a new deal in which Rogers will carry indie material from Robert De Niro's distribution company Tribeca Film.
The cable TV and Internet provider says the partnership adds more titles to its Rogers On Demand and Rogers Anyplace TV services.
Other additions include the South African-set "Black Butterflies," the romantic comedy "Conception" and the crime thriller "Neon Flesh."
During a stop in Toronto on Tuesday, Burns said changing technology, the demise of art house theatres and fewer specialized movie distribution companies have changed the industry dramatically.
"The audience has just decided to stay home," noted Burns, stating that theatrical attendance is at its lowest since 1992.
In years past, an indie film would open in New York and Los Angeles and gradually roll out to the rest of the country over two to 10 weeks, he said.
Now it's hard to hold people's attention that long.
"You want your film to be seen and these new digital platforms have given us not only a new revenue stream but we have access to such a bigger audience than we've ever had," he said.
Burns said that reality was drilled home last year when he brought his film "Nice Guy Johnny" to the Tribeca Film Festival and sought deals with theatrical distribution companies.
His lawyer outlined two possible scenarios: a theatrical deal, which could book him one theatre in New York; or a video-on-demand deal, which would put the film in 45 million homes.
"The difference is I can go on 'Conan' or '(Late Night with) Jimmy Fallon' or the 'Today' show ... and I can tell people: 'If you live in the suburbs you don't have to wait the four weeks for this movie to show up at your little art house theatre. Tonight you can go home, go to channel 100, hit on-demand, buy the movie for $6 and enjoy it while it's still fresh in your mind.'"
Rogers Communications executive Anthony Antonelli says the Tribeca deal gives viewers a chance to see films that don't get the same exposure as Hollywood blockbusters.
Rogers On Demand and Rogers Anyplace TV offer more than 150 independent films for rent.