Can We Have Too Many Screening Venues? Hopefully Not!

kimmelThe International House in West Philly has been a long standing independent film venue showing both old and contemporary films across genres and from around the world. A few weeks ago the Philadelphia Film Office announced a partnership with the Kimmel Center to open a new state of the art screening theater that seats close to 500. Although there will be some overlap with the International House, the theater will be used for special screenings, film festivals and other events. At the same time the Philadelphia Film Society recently raised over $40,000 on kickstarter to restore the old Roxy theater in Center City to screen “festival type films” year round. That’s a lot of indie film venues!

My question as a long time film event coordinator in Philly is: can we sustain this many indie screening venues and keep them all in business? Everyone knows that even Hollywood movie theaters don’t make money off the ticket sales–the profit comes from the $10 tub of popcorn you buy before settling into your seat for entertainment. How will these venues sustain themselves? Or will they be dependent on grant funding or outside funding streams that support general programming (in the case of I-House and Kimmel)? I’m not hating at all, actually more just expressing intrigue. As someone who dreamed for years of opening an indie film screening venue in Philly and decided it was financially not viable, I’m excited to see larger entities with more resources make it a reality. Philly has always been a hub for independent film and having these new venues will make that even more so.

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