With Sundance '14 being only four days away, independent filmmakers, studios, and buyers are gearing up for another festival year of screenings, bidding, passing, as well as contemplation over the current state of independent cinema. Cultural Weekly and Entertainment Media Partners CEO Adam Leipzig have released an in-depth infographic compiling key data from Sundance, namely on spending, which analyzes how these numbers stack up against those of the major studios. Their findings are a mixed bag of encouraging stats and disheartening truths.
Cultural Weekly and Leipzig decided to use Sundance as a representation of independent cinema as a whole, because "with more than 4,000 feature-length films submitted each year, Sundance certainly represents a healthy sample of the industry," especially since the higher profile films tend to be submitted to the festival. Leipzig says, "Sundance submission numbers represent a good statistical estimate of the most viable indie movies produced each year."
The study collected data from top indie film producers, sales agents and indie financiers and found several interesting stats. For one, with an annual production budget of over $3 billion, the study found that independent film spending "rivals" that of major studios'. The average budget for an independent film was found to be $750,000 per movie, a number that was rounded down to be conservative. They also took a look at distribution and biggest sales, finding that thanks in part to streaming and digital platforms, more than half of the films screened at Sundance received distribution deals -- though figures also show that investors usually don't make much (or anything) on their investments, less than 2% to be exact.
Check out Cultural Weekly's infographic below to see more stats:
[Editor's note: the infographic has been removed]
So according to the study's findings, there are some good things and bad things going on in independent film. Money is being exchanged in independent film -- about as much as in Hollywood, however the number of films being invested in is much higher in the indie sphere. That can be seen as a positive or a negative depending on how you see it; more films being financed means money is more thinly spread, but more films being financed means -- more films.
And with less than 2% of investments being recouped, it appears that investments may not be being made wisely. With solid distribution plans hatched in advance, as well as filmmakers being more dedicated to producing better films, Leipzig believes the money hemorrhaging would begin to lessen.
Be sure to give Culture Weekly's post for more information, as well as Leipzig's thoughts and take-aways.
What do you think about the data from the infographic? Let us know in the comments below.