Independent film distributors admitted yesterday that exhibitors are committing more screens to art and specialty films. However, they cautioned that unless the theater owners put someone in charge of marketing the titles, the new additions will be disappointing to both sides of the equation.

Speaking during a ShowEast 1992 forum for independent distributors, most on the panel agreed that access to screens has increased for their films, yet in some cases it was on a haphazard basis that ended with poor results for the exhibitor.

According to October Film’s Jeff Lipsky, exhibitors have been “very generous in making screens available in small, out-of-the-way markets.” But without marketing help the films fall flat.

Lipsky cited a Long Island theater owner who comes out into the audience to introduce each film as an example of what needs to be done.

Fine Line’s Ira Deutchman said it was important for theaters to be committed to the genre and not just throw an art film into the mix every once in a while.

“You’ve really got to get out there and let people know the films are there,” added Derval Whelan of MK2 Prods.

To make it work, explained Whelan, a theater owner should be willing to show several art films over a period of time before making a decision on profitability.

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