Serenity Now: Lack of Indie Film Screenings

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Dear Theatre Chains / Movie Studios of Canada,

As I’m sure you know the film “Me and Earl and The Dying Girl” is set for release this Friday (June 12th). The film has received critical acclaim from Sundance-winning the Grand Jury Prize in the drama category (succeeding last year’s Whiplash which, went on to get multiple Oscar nominations).   Given such high praise, you’d assume that there would be at least one theater showing it in every major Canadian city however, I was disappointed to see that not a single major chain theater will be showing the film for the foreseeable future.

Look I get it; June 12th is a big day for the theater with Jurassic World likely to make a massive gross on its opening weekend. Indie films like Me Earl and The Dying Girl will likely not produce much revenue for a theater and at the end of the day it’s a business. That’s fine, but what I take issue with is the fact that Avengers 2 (in week 8 of its release) and other high profile releases deep into its run are still getting seven screenings a day. I walked into a midday showing of Avengers at the local Cineplex (the largest theatre chain in Canada) to find a total of 11 people in the theater (I counted). Me and Earl and The Dying Girl may be an indie film with limited reach but I’m willing it bet it can do better than 11 people (especially in premiere week).

I’m not asking that this film be screened 11 times a day (which, by the way, San Andreas – a film that is bad and leaked online weeks ago is getting) All I’m asking for is to please screen this a few times a day for even just a week or two. I am almost certain it will fare better than a blockbuster that premiered nearly two months ago.

Unfortunately, the lack of screenings for critically acclaimed indie films is not just a problem for Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, It’s a problem that has affected many films in Canada. For example, the majority of last year’s Oscar nominees (Birdman, Still Alice, Whiplash, Boyhood and Wild to name a few) saw little to no screenings in my major Canadian city. People will watch these films – maybe not to the degree of a blockbuster but acclaim and word of mouth travels far (especially in the internet era) so there is no excuse for a major chain like Cineplex not to show these films.

There may be legal logistics that prevent indie films from getting to Canada but strictly from a business standpoint I do not see how a limited screening of an indie film could hurt. Given that Portland, Maine (Shoutout to Portland Maine- Thanks for giving the world Anna Kendrick- We [read:] I love her) with its population of 70 thousand can afford to screen Me and Earl and The Dying Girl in the United States albeit on July 1st, I see no reason why major Canadian cities with populations in excess of a million cannot do the same.

We are Canadians and we demand more indie film screenings



Nate Lam
Nate Lam
Editor-in-chief of Before The Cyborgs. Part-time filmmaker and occasional short story author. One day he hopes to be as cool as Bill Murray.



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