Filmmaker Sean Baker opened his latest feature film RED ROCKET in select locations in NY and LA this weekend. The film’s distributor A24 chose to use a platform releasing strategy for RED ROCKET, starting slowly in a handful of theatres in major media markets to create a buzz that would fuel expansion to an ever-widening number of cities over time. Baker comments that he is disoriented by the instability in release strategies for independent films.
In an interview with BoxofficePro’s Daniel Loria, Baker explains the value to films and filmmakers in having their movies released in theatres and advocates for the longest exclusive window possible. Baker says that releasing a film straight to streaming limits its prospects because it gets lost among all the other content on the platform. It becomes another “Netflix film.” Even when an indie release opens in theatres for a few weeks before its streaming debut, the opportunity to build momentum through word of mouth is lost. Baker feels that this “slow build” was essential in the success of his prior films, such as THE FLORIDA PROJECT or TANGERINE. Unlike blockbusters which generate the majority of their box office in the opening 3-4 weeks, a successful independent film is more likely to build its box office over an extended run in theatres.
“The people who are back at theaters right now, they’re loving film. There’s that vibe that I get in the auditoriums when I’m there. People are truly celebrating something that we almost lost. It’s that cliché, you don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” – Sean Baker