Vadim Rizov has an interesting article up on Filmmaker Magazine where he notes, among other things, that movie theaters are constantly increasing the amount of specialized "one-off" screenings that they do - opera performances, rock concerts, and so on. It makes sense - as movie theaters fill less of their capacity than they once did, these public spaces can be used for other purposes. What might the effects be?
It sounds ironic, but movie theaters' re-appropriation of their spaces could end up being an interesting and unusual means of advertising theatrical moviegoing.
One potential route this could take would be to turn film theaters into public gathering places, with the screens providing a connection to an event taking place somewhere else. Regardless of the staying power of movies themselves (in theatrical exhibition), it seems likely that there will be - for a long time to come - an appeal to large crowds congregating together in public, be it to watch a film, go to a concert, listen to a speech or engage in debate of some sort. While more people may go to movie theaters, in the future, to do things other than watch films, the act of congregating en masse with one's fellow citizens and sharing a communal experience may work as a sort of experiential advertisement for what's special about the theatrical experience - namely, those elements. It sounds ironic, but movie theaters' re-appropriation of their spaces could end up being an interesting and unusual means of advertising theatrical moviegoing.
There's nothing quite as thrilling for a filmmaker - or as legitimizing - as screening their film in a significant movie theater.
Aside from that, it seems likely that - as more and more films get produced, while distribution remains the same - that one-off screenings of films will become more common. There's nothing quite as thrilling for a filmmaker - or as legitimizing - as screening their film in a significant movie theater, and we may see filmmakers beginning to partake in the one-off trend in order to organize screenings for friends, family, crew members and industry figures, so as to display what they can do with the benefit of a theatrical screening, as opposed to asking someone to watch the film on a laptop.
Is the one-off screening a positive tool for filmmakers? For films that aren't going to get distribution, I think so. For investors, producers, reps and actors, being able to judge a filmmaker's past work is crucial to determining whether or not they're interested in getting involved with them, and the perceived quality gap between watching a film in a theater and watching a screener at home on a small screen is enormous. For that reason alone, one-off screenings seem likely to become more common as exhibitors warm to the idea.