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David Poland

By David Poland

Ted Hope Rambles With Passion

Here’s his piece in this week’s Village Voice

What I get is that the indie theatrical exhibition business is very stratified and Ted is feeling the heat.  But is it really fair to call the villagers to the square and blame them for the problem? 

Does Ted really think that The Passion of The Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11 changed the exhibition world?  I would make the argument than if an analagous film turned up tomorrow, every studio would turn that one down too.  There is a real problem underlying that and it isn’t political… a couple hundred million in profit doesn’t efffect the conglomerate bottom line that much and the hassle does.  Sure, a desperate player might step up to the plate for a controversial title that at least plays well in the "home" constituency.  But Sherry Lansing and Jon Dolgen passed on both of these films… so did MGM…

I would argue that the future of what we have called indie film is in new distribution modes.  Unless Hotel Rwanda gets a Best Picture nod, more people will probably see Sometimes In April on HBO than see Rwanda.  Yes, it is not theatrical.  But isn’t the embrace of all media part of the artistic experience? 

Just last year, the big battle was to Free The Screeners!  The point of keeping that avenue open?  Access to Oscar nominations.  Isn’t the obsession with Oscar nominations for indies a major part of the distribution stratification that Hope is so upset about? 

That is my big problem with the very smart, very committed Mr. Hope.  He fights his battles, it seems to me, in isolation and like a bad studio movie, never bothers to connect the dots.  The rebel millionaire who helped turn a decision not to put massive numbers of high-quality, easily pirateable screeners into the world so that awards voters could skip a trip to the theater so that his "indie" film, financed by a division of a major, could (theoretically) get Oscar nominations into the "indie cause of 2003/2004" is now complaining that distributors are too concerned about chasing Oscars and… in a breathtaking moment of show biz blindness… money!

He is, in many ways, right that there is a problem out there for the independant filmmaker.  But it is not a moral issue.  It is an issue of finding solutions to make opportunities viable for this class of film.  And that discussion does not seem to be Mr. Hope’s priority… at least not in this piece. 

What do you make of it?

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31 Responses to “Ted Hope Rambles With Passion”

  1. bicycle bob says:

    ur right. i just got zero interest in hotel rwanda even if don cheadle gets nominated. and no, pepper, its not because he is a black man.

  2. Kernan says:

    Well I don’t know what not liking Hotel Rwanda has to do with anything, and I don’t believe DP mentioned his own opinion of Hotel Rwanda at least not in this piece. My feeling about Mr. Hope’s piece is that I lost his point when he took a seemingly unnecessary shot at Hotel Rwanda. I think, and thanks DP for laying it out, Mr. Hope was trying to make a point about the problems facing the future of indie films in the realm of content and distribution. Unfortunately calling out Hotel Rwanda and taking a blind shot at it for no good reason muddies whatever point he was trying to make.
    For the record I have not seen Hotel Rwanda yet.
    Being in the industry Mr. Hope must be aware that his opinion does matter and that cheap shotting Hotel Rwanda while it is campaigning for big awards will have an effect, maybe only a minor one, on that films chances.
    Can anyone tell me why in a piece about the future of the independent film Mr. Hope felt the need to toss in his negative opinion of a film in the middle of an awards push?

  3. Mark says:

    You should really see it before you go on a discourse about seeing it. Cheadle is probably worth the 2 hours of your time.

  4. Kernan says:

    I want to see Hotel Rwanda but just because I haven’t doesn’t disqualify me from discussing the issue raised by DP’s piece and my own reaction to Mr. Hope’s piece.

  5. PeppersDad says:

    Missing from Hope’s finger-pointing analysis is his failure to discuss the ever-continuing rise of the multiplex. It used to be argued that multiplexes would bring more movies to the masses by increasing the number and accessibility of showcases for indie and foreign films – films that otherwise would never be available in communities where there used to be only one or two screens. Instead, what has happened is that today’s typical 12-theatre multiplex commonly devotes a full third (or more) of its screens to its hottest movie, while other recent commercial releases split the rest of the screens in a manner proportional to their expected profitability. So instead of greater diversity, all we now have is a greater number and concentration of screens for the most popular films.
    This has resulted in the growth of the opening-weekend crunch and the significance of Monday morning box-office figures. Lost in the wake are the vast majority of smaller films, whose visibility has been diminished even further and whose very existence now depends more than ever on being able to break through the clutter and prove their box-office viability.
    I doubt this situation is fixable, let alone reversible. To that extent, Hope is probably right: truly independent indie production (at least as we used to envision it) has been greatly corrupted, and we may see its complete disappearance from theatres over the next ten years. What will be left is a movement that continues to find new life on the Internet and cable television.

  6. PeppersMom says:

    My husband rambles like no other. Please forgive him for this moment of weakness.

  7. gombro says:

    Hey PeppersDad. Someone calling himself PeppersMom (I think it’s “Mark”, based on the timing of his posts) is obviously threatened by your intelligence and insight. No one gets more flack in life than smart people from stupid people. Look at how they attacked Clinton, probably the smartest US president in 50 years?
    Anyway, pay him no heed. What you say seems right on. Though wasn’t one of Hope’s points that the success of 9/11 and P OF THE C show there is hope for movies beyond the studios narrow parameters?

  8. PeppersMom says:

    As a woman I can speak for myself, Gombro. I will stand up for my husband at all costs.

  9. Joe Leydon says:

    Gombro: If you’re right, and it’s really Mark identifying himself as Pepper’s Mom, isn’t that… well, you know… kinda-sorta like the on-line equivalent of cross-dressing? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, you understand. He’s a lumberjack, and he’s OK.

  10. gombro says:

    Yeah. I don’t know if we should tell Mark/PeppersMom to “get a life” or get a therapist. Wasn’t it Theador Adorno who said fascism is caused by repressed homosexuality?

  11. Joe Leydon says:

    No, actually, I think it was Randolph Scott.

  12. The Woods says:

    Anyone that refers to others as gay must be in the closet himself or have issues with his latent sexuality. Typical of some of the people here to resort to personal insults.

  13. gombro says:

    Come on, Mark. What a juvie, switching over to another screenname like this. You think we can’t tell? And just so you know, I’m totally pro-gay, as long as its not repressed and rechanneled into the kind of anger your ilk shows. Grow up. As for me, I’m just going to ignore you and go back to talking to the adults on this board, like Joe, Stella’s Boy and PeppersDad.

  14. The Woods says:

    Gombro, do you have a problem with someone defending Mark here? I know how you bullies think. Now you can continue the personal insults all you want against him. It seems he can take care of himself. But when you refer to me show the respect you think you deserve. And defending yourself saying you’re pro gay does not take back the fact that you hurled homophobic insults at another person. Over a computer no less. A real classy individual. Maybe it is time to leave your basement.

  15. gombro says:

    Wow. Assuming you’re not Mark–and I’m pretty sure you are since you have the exact same opinions as he and the exact strange misunderstandings of what I’ve said as he–you’ve still called me “irresponsible” and “thanked God” that I can’t vote at the Oscars. Who’s the bully?
    It’s not homophobic to point out that repressed homosexuality leads to bullish/right wing behavior, such as that shown by Mark over and over again on these threads. I wasn’t kidding when I referred to Theador Adorno and his theories about sexual repression and fascism. Look it up. The book’s called THE DIALECTIC OF ENLIGHTENMENT. Any queer theorist or gay activist will tell you the same thing. It’s not homophobia; It’s mainstream psychological knowledge. As for you calling me a “bully”, there’s another psychological term for that: projection. Anyway, that’s it. Next time I’m here, I’ll be talking about movies. And I’ll be using the one screen name I’ve always used.

  16. Joe Fitz says:

    Why do people who disagree with the Left in this country get called “bullshit opinions”? Are the only opinions worth talking about the Left? I guess people only live in NY, LA, and Massachussets with that thinking. Elitism is not how you bring people into your way of thinking.

  17. PeppersDad says:

    OK, everyone: Run a search on this page for the in-quotes phrase “bullshit opinions.” The one and only time it appears prior to this posting is in Joe Fitz’s (AKA Mark’s) deceptively baseless load of crap above.
    False quotes, false facts, false labels. The Republican way to “bring people into your way of thinking.”

  18. Mark says:

    Liberals are never wrong and they know whats best for this country. They know whats best for the poor, the blacks, education, social security, national defense, and the middle class. Too bad they haven’t updated the playbook since FDR’s first term.

  19. PeppersDad says:

    I apologize for my outbursts here but I have homophobic issues that take precedence over anything else here.

  20. PeppersDad says:

    As usual: More sloganeering, zero substance. It’s pretty hilarious, though, how Mark and his buddies can claim liberals never update their playbook, while back-room conservative fearmongers resort to regressive platforms unheard of since the days of the Puritans and demand that judges be “strict constructionists.”

  21. PeppersDad says:

    As usual my ideas are being thrown over a conservative river here by malcontents intent on bringing down the establishment. Just because I may be a homosexual does not give anyone the right to bring the thunder down on myself or PeppersMom.

  22. Mark says:

    Make up your mind, Peppa. We don’t need to be a part of your family squabbling. Another Left wing kook move. Let me guess, Pepa. You are a part of Move on. org.

  23. PeppersDad says:

    I did not place the 5:46 posting here. ONE MORE TIME, MARK: It’s a crime to adopt someone else’s identity for your own use. Does the law mean nothing to you? Is it OK to continuously commit crimes just because you are confident you can get away with them?

  24. PeppersDad says:

    Nor did I place the 5:49 posting.

  25. joe s says:

    Joe Fitz slams NY, California, and Massachusetts, as the home of us liberal elites and therefore not to be taken seriously. But remember, Massachusetts is where the US revolution began and is still pretty much the center of the academic universe in this country (Harvard, MIT). For its part, NYC is the center for commerce and investing. Northern Cal is the center of the silicone world and the software revolution, and southern Cal is the center of the entertainment industry (which is, I think, the interest we, all are all supposed to share on this board.) If you want to add another blue state to your list of places to insult, consider Washington, which is the center of aviation and is another big engine in the software world.
    You can insult us blue state liberals all you want, but if it wasn’t for us, the United States would be a third world country and its only culture would be bowling alleys and truck-a-rama shows. Think about that before you call us clueless and unintelligent again.

  26. gombro says:

    Hate to correct you Joe, when you’re on my side so many times and all, but it’s “silicon world”, to which you seem to refer, not “silicone world.” Let me guess, you wrote that right after seeing all the starlets on the carpet at the Golden Globes, right? 😉

  27. bicycle bob says:

    libs. always defending themselves from some conspiracy. whenever ur on gombros side u must think ‘what am i doing wrong’?

  28. joe s says:

    bob, that comment made no sense whatsoever.

  29. IQ007 says:

    Wow. A thought provoking article by the one of the few reigning kings of forward thinking cinmema is prsented and the page devolves into a gossip column for posters. This place sucks. I’m going elsewhere.

  30. TheBrotherhoodOfTheLostSkeletonOfCadavra says:

    Sigh. Anybody remember the Good Old Days when we talked about movies here?

  31. Mark says:

    If you would pay attention, you would remember.

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