Distributor and wearer of many other cinematic hats Ira Deutchman learned some new info on how the Virtual Print Fee (VPF)1 is effecting indie distribution:
It means that theaters are incentivized not to holdover films for very long. This is potentially the death knell for the types of films that require word-of-mouth to build into a hit. Now, we all know that the old fashioned word-of-mouth film has been on life support for a while now. A film like “Hoop Dreams,” which required 6 solid months of business before it started to take off could never happen today. But now will we be seeing films that could have played 5 or 6 weeks reduced to 1 or 2 in order to support the number of “turns” required by the VPF deals?
The only place to go next is to nix theatrical distribution of lower performing work altogether. I’ll bet there are a few studio heads who can’t wait to get these kinds of films out of their hair.
In short, the VPF is an incentive to theater owners to facilitate the purchase of digital projection equipment. However, since the fee is provided by the studios that distribute the films, these incentives sometimes come with quid pro quos. ↩︎