There are plenty of films that receive a poor reception from viewers, focus on topics that are deemed unpopular within our society, receive a ton of scathe, and filmed with poor quality equipment. But while we watch these films at home or in theaters, our thoughts and opinions have no effect on these films’ material success. I came to this conclusion following a conversation with a colleague who has years of experience in rights acquisitions for films.
My colleague, Lily, explained to me how some of her former colleagues who had once worked with professional filmmakers had started acquiring rights to films that were in danger of disappearing from the market.
Films that typically enter this vortex usually focus on non- mainstream topics. Examples include documentaries about: middle class Americans and their struggles; the life with an autistic individual; or the everyday life of an athlete. As opposed to their blockbuster counterparts like Million Dollar Baby or What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, these films don’t challenge the majority of viewers.
Lily’s former colleagues however, saw an advantage in acquiring these films. Once they became the rights holders of these films, they started pitching and selling them to programs on, for example, The Hallmark channel and profited substantially.
Then I ask myself, how did these individuals know such a business endeavor would be a profitable one? Lily reassured his success was based on a simple rule: human psychology always defeats logic.
The American film industry includes businesses that search for films lacking in cinematic magnitude and are interested in showing them on their own television programs to the public. While American viewers have a deep appreciation for popular films that have well developed and written plots and characters, quality editing and admirable acting, the majority of Americans after a hard day at work will more likely tune into a move of the opposite type. In other words, most of viewers on any given working day would rather watch a film on their TV that does not require a great deal of concentration and doesn’t challenge them in any way whatsoever.
I started thinking about channels that are trademarks for screening low quality movies. Channels like IFC, Atom Films and Syfy treat low quality films like a desirable and at some times, a profitable entity.
Although I am not crazy about these channels, I can appreciate how they help preserve films that were once in danger of being completely forgotten. However, there also is a downside to this business. Thanks to a few wise- ass distributors, many filmmakers might never have the chance to profit from their original films again.