AMC Gives Indies Another Try

By Robert Marich
   April 25, 2010 – Leading multiplex circuit AMC Theatres is mounting an initiative to put independent movies in its cinemas supported by promotions and special consumer marketing. The effort is dubbed AMC Independent, or “AMCi.”
   The Marketing to Moviegoers book notes indie films have a tough times getting screen time in multiplexes, which seems counterintuitive. With 8, 10, 12, 14 or how-many-ever screens, multiplexes obviously have more “capacity” for movies than single screen or small multiplex theaters. Yet, after dabbling in indie films about 10 years ago, the big plexes tend to concentrate on glossy studio films that play across many screens in the same location. Of course, circuits are reacting to home video undercutting indie cinema—the audience increasingly stays home-- and indie films have a poor track record grossing in theaters.
   The AMC circuit, with 4,528 screens in 5 countries at 300 locations, hopes to upend that history. AMCi exclusively books indie film La Mission starting Benjamin Bratt April 30, per the press release (though BoxOfficeMojo has this contemporary drama set in San Francisco’s rough Mission District playing in some theaters now).
   Other films in the AMCi program are Focus Features’ Babies and First Independent’s Holy Rollers.
   The press release said that newly-hired Nikkole Denson-Randolph, who is VP specialty & alternative content, is the circuit’s point person. Further the press release quotes text quotes Tom Bernard, co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics and Jack Foley, president of theatrical distribution for Focus Features
   AMC said that the circuit “renewed” is commitment to indie films and that’s true.
   In 2006, AMC designated 72 of its locations as “AMC Select” theaters that would devote screens to indie films, though that AMC Select initiative eventually petered out. In 2004, AMC trumpeted it would project indie films with then-new digital projectors (eliminating the need for costly film prints that indie films struggle to afford), though that print-less effort also did not grow into anything ongoing.
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