Small-budget indie flicks become improbable mainstream successes every year—except, the LA Times notes, 2007. Moviegoers are bombarded with art films that have all flopped, from melancholy war pieces to classy, studio-backed star vehicles. “It's as bad a fall as I've ever seen,” says Focus’ CEO. The problem? “Too many movies,” says Miramax’s chief.
Years of micro-budget success have spawned specialty art film divisions at every company. Once, indies could linger in multiplexes for months, slowly gaining word of mouth buzz, but with so many offerings, there are no screens for underperformers. Audiences have always had a finite taste for depressing fare, some note, and there are now too many gut-punchers to choose from.