Awards season is arriving, with buzzy films like The Irishman and 1917 hitting theaters in search of golden statues. But there are also great films that have no statues, that go unnoticed, and—as in the case of El Clásico—are entirely unviewable. As theaters and online platforms get swamped with middling content, high-quality films can go unseen.
“Some say, ‘If it’s good, people will find it and people will see it,’” said Erik Løkkesmoe, who heads Aspiration Entertainment, which markets and distributes films. “I tend to think that is glossing over fundamental challenges. Really good films are never found and never watched, because they get lost in the massive clutter of content.”
Awards season highlights the commercial side of filmmaking and the importance of distributors to bring a great film to an audience. Big studios muscle independent films out of movie theaters, demanding more and more screens for the latest Marvel or Star Wars installment. That leaves independent films with a slimmer chance of finding a theatrical audience.
Distributors can more easily disseminate films through online platforms, but they find it harder to attract eyeballs there. Even when an independent film sells to Netflix or Amazon, it may disappear into their clutter of content. Distributors are struggling to figure out good models for what one called this “very strange new world.”