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Also production companies become brands

How indie cinema is saving itself

Also production companies become brands How indie cinema is saving itself

It has been almost a week since Netflix announced that it had lost 200,000 subscribers since the beginning of 2022, a figure which opened the door to the streaming giant's crisis but which also reflexively reopened the discussion on the state of cinema in the post-pandemic era. If you wonder what Netflix and the cinema, two entities probably at odds with each other, have in common, the answer is in the content, that which on the one hand moves subscriptions and on the other makes people take out tickets. If the streaming service has paid for its lack of quality content, the cinema seems to be a prisoner of the overwhelming power of commercial blockbusters, which are dominating the worldwide box-office and whose two biggest grossers of the last twelve months are The Batman and Spider-Man: No Way Home. But while this type of film guarantees an audience, it also represents a crisis for all low and medium budget projects, suspended in a limbo of streaming releases and timid attempts at theatrical release. The Northman, for example, with a budget of around $90millions, has so far grossed only $26, casting serious doubt on its chances of reaching its break even point.

Looking for a solution to bring audiences back to their projects, production companies urgently need to find new strategies to promote not only their films, but above all themselves. The first to realize this was A24, the production company founded by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges in 2012, which over the years has become a true cult brand that, in addition to films, also offers merchandise consisting of memorabilia and above all apparel. An "A24 Movie" is not just a film, it is a small event for fans who have become loyal to the cause, ready to go to the cinema regardless of plot, genre, cast and director. For this reason, its latest move was the launch of a membership service through which, by paying $10 a month or $99 a year, you have access to a series of privileges designed for your fans. Exclusive access, preview merchandise and events: among the various privileges dedicated to AAA24 members, there is also a quarterly fanzine designed to further expand the production company's offer, ready to become even more of a brand in the classic sense of the term.

Nothing different from what happened years ago, when studios such as Universal used to sell merch with their own logo in their theme parks in a self-production mechanism that today, however, has changed in meaning and importance: if in the past it was a simple business, today it is an operation to build audience loyalty in a different way than in the past. This is why, in the absence of streaming services or sagas capable of lasting ten years, indie cinema is faced with the need to reinvent itself to get out of the purely distributive and productive dimension, becoming its own influencer to constantly promote itself and save cinema from another Spider-Man film.