Le cinéma

Why a film producer says indie movies are dying a slow death because of Marvel and Netflix

  • Rebecca Green, a film producer known for “It Follows,” said indie movies are “dying a slow death.”
  • It’s difficult to secure an actor’s schedule when competing with projects from Netflix and others.
  • She also thinks it’s reasonable for indie theaters to play commercial movies with broader appeal.

Rebecca Green, an indie film producer whose credits include the 2014 horror movie “It Follows,” didn’t expect one of her tweets to garner so much attention earlier this month. 

But after she expressed the difficulties of making an independent film in the age of


streaming

and superhero movies, the tweet blew up with nearly 20,000 likes and over 1,500 retweets.

“Producing a 2mil movie and since arriving on location for prep, every actor attached has dropped out due to Marvel,


Netflix

or TV opportunities which is holding up our cash flow,” she tweeted on March 11. “In case you were wondering what it’s like to make an indie in 2022.”

After her viral tweet, Insider spoke to Green about the state of indie film and arthouse cinemas. She said indie movies are “dying a slow death.”

“The struggle for indie distribution was a struggle before the pandemic, but that exacerbated it,” Green said. 

She noted that Netflix makes so much content a year in-house that it’s difficult to land notable actors for indie films because of their busy schedules. But it’s hard to get a small film financed today without notable actors, she said. 

The pandemic only accelerated the flourishing streaming space, as media companies focused on building their own platforms to compete. Now, with so many TV and film opportunities across so many different options, it’s next to impossible to secure known actors for an indie film shoot, Green said. Not to mention that consumers’ attention is elsewhere.

Superhero movies, particularly Marvel, also tie up actors’ schedules. Green lamented that “somebody in a Marvel movie could be making them for years.” Those are also the kinds of movies that do the best business in movie theaters, especially during the pandemic when once reliable demographics — older audiences and families — have been slow to return.

This also means indie theaters in the US have had to evolve their programming strategies, as indie movies are fewer and farther between now. Arthouse cinema operators that Insider recently spoke to said that they are programming  big-budget movies with broader appeal to stay afloat.

“That part of the business hasn’t returned to normal yet,” said Ian Judge, the creative director at the Somerville Theater in Somerville, Massachusetts, referring to indie movies.

Green said that it’s now necessary for indie cinemas to play more more commercial films.

“The Landmark theater where I live in Detroit, that I would see indie movies at, closed last year,” Green said. “We have to acknowledge that theaters need to make money to stay open.”

She said she navigates the hurdles with indie moviemaking on a “movie-by-movie, actor-by-actor basis.”

“We need financiers to play ball, but some have their expectations too high,” she said. “The best financiers are the ones that will be adaptive [in their budgets] to allow the movie to get made, but some don’t have that flexibility.”

She also said one of the biggest difficulties on the indie-distribution side is that distributors aren’t utilizing social media, such as TikTok, well enough to promote their movies and reach audiences.

“I believe people want to see these movies,” she said. “They just don’t know about them.”