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Following up on my “Regional Film Festivals are where the discoveries are” column yesterday, I wanted to float the following idea that I came up with during this just concluded Sundance trip:

Is the Amazonianzation and Netflixication of independent film basically just the latest “reset” of what we used to think of as the hierarchy of studio films versus independent films?

The two stars of THE BIG SICK read up on their big deal with Amazon

Two of the “discoveries” (see the last column) in THE BIG SICK read up on their big deal with Amazon

Remember a few years ago, when there were stories in the press and discussion of the demise of the mid-budgeted studio drama or comedy? The conversation went something along the lines of people bemoaning the fact that studios had no interest in that business model as everything was being geared toward blockbusters with huge budgets that either featured costumed superheroes, spectaculars, continuations, revivals, or creation of tentpole films, etc. Therefore, there was less and less room at the inn for a thoughtful drama or romantic comedy that starred a couple of top line movie stars.

Not so "incredible" that Jessica Williams,..or James...okay both..are headed to Netflix.

Not so “incredible” that Jessica Williams,..or James…okay both..are headed to Netflix. (THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES)

The IFP Spirit Awards and Sundance have increasingly been dominated by films that are independent in name or intent only. A $30 million dollar movie technically could be described as “independent” since it hadn’t been developed by or financed at a studio, but no one is kidding anyone regarding the reality of what is going on there.

It's obvious to Jenny Slate that an Amazon deal is just ahead for her film.

It’s obvious to Jenny Slate that an Amazon deal is just ahead for her film. (LANDLINE)

And now the next step in the resetting of the filmscape: Amazon and Netflix either pre-finance or swoop in and take as many of these star-driven, healthy budgeted indies, as they can fit into their overhead compartments of the planes flying them out of Park City.

Keanu Reeves explains to Lily Collins that his diagnosis is a nice deal with Netflix.

Keanu Reeves explains to Lily Collins that his diagnosis is a nice deal with Netflix. (TO THE BONE)

Which means, the truly independent films, the ones surviving by crowdfunding, begging, borrowing, and stealing, and featuring talent in front of and behind the camera that hasn’t caught the eye of a TMZ or image-crafting manager or publicist quite yet, will be found at….wait for it…

Regional film festivals.

Yeah. That’s what I’m thinking. That’s what it looks like on the surface, as far as the optics are concerned. Admittedly, I’m a champion of the regional fests, so maybe the hard data doesn’t bear me out. But that is how I’m seeing it.

How are you seeing it?

Teresa Palmer goes from Berlin to Netflix

Teresa Palmer goes from Berlin to Netflix  (BERLIN SYNDROME)

 

Molly Shannon and the rest of the moms are going to Netflix.

Molly Shannon and the rest of the moms are going to Netflix. (FUN MOM DINNER)

 

How many times does Alfre Woodard need to explain this Amazon/Netflix thing to you before you get this new world order through your head?

How many times does Alfre Woodard need to explain this Amazon/Netflix thing to you before you get this new world order through your head? (BURNING SANDS)