Julianne Moore at CinemaCon: ‘You Can’t Make a Living Doing Just Indie Films’

Julianne Moore Julianne Moore CinemaCon
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Oscar winner Julianne Moore gave exhibitors at CinemaCon a guardedly optimistic outlook for the world of independent films.

“It’s highly highly personal — that’s why people support it,” Moore said at a Thursday lunch panel in Las Vegas called “The Independent Game: Based on a True Story.”

But both Moore and Sony Classics’ Tom Bernard endorsed seeing films on a bigscreen and bemoaned the VOD trend. “We’re always so disappointed when you hear the words ‘day-and-date.’ I think, ‘Oh, really?'”

“A movie never looks the same on television,” Moore said.

Moore’s “Still Alice,” which carried a $5 million budget, was an unqualified success at the box office with $28 million — much of that after she won the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of a professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

“The great parts are not going to come to you on a silver platter,” Moore noted. “You need a commercial profile so that investors will invest in something smaller that I’m in. You can’t make a living doing just indie films.”

Moore also said the longish awards season can be a huge help to indie films.

“I always say it’s a great way to celebrate terrific work,” she added. “Working in the indie space has helped my career longevity. All of my successes — including my Oscar — sprung from these teeny tiny movies.”

Jay Roach is making his first independent film with the upcoming “Trumbo,” starring Bryan Cranston. He said that working on such HBO projects as “Game Change,” which starred Moore, prepped him for the indie world.

“It’s a labor of love,” he said. “Nobody is getting paid much, the cast is barely making their fees, and everyone is working on the film because it’s something they love. There’s no fear of a big weekend or big ratings — in that way it’s similar to HBO.”

Bleecker Street is opening “Trumbo” on Nov. 6.

Bernard agreed that the indie business is relatively healthy. “There are more theaters playing indie film than ever before, and I’ve been doing this since 1977,” he said. “There’s a steady diet so that audiences know that 52 weeks a year there’s product they like.”

AMC’s Robert Linehan sounded a note of realism, however: “It’s kind of amazing how many movies are released in New York and many of them will never broaden out.”

Bernard also endorsed the notion of keeping the windows between theatrical and VOD release. “The fact that Cinemark, Regal, don’t play movies that are on VOD is important for the marketplace to keep it thriving,” he added.

The panel was moderated by Brent Lang, senior film and media reporter for Variety.

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  1. David K says:

    Not that it’s her fault but the state of theater going today is atrocious, not to mention expensive. It’s no wonder people choose to watch on their phones or in the comfort of home. I agree, some movies never look the same on television, but let’s be honest Julianne, Still Alice makes no difference either way, that’s a made for tv movie if I ever saw one.

  2. cardmarc58 says:

    Clearly what Ms. Moore & Mr. Roach consider “making a living” is far different than what the average person who pays for their ticket to see a show considers making a living.

    Kinda makes me think about Hilary’s idea of what being broke is, compared to the real world, they are very fortunate.

    • Anonymous says:

      Clearly you do not know the enormous costs associated with an acting career. I’m an indie film and TV actor, so take it from me, it’s not as glamorous as you’d think. I make okay money, but spend most of it just to keep working, not to mention normal living costs. Educate yourself before you make another stupid comment. You are the one that’s out-of-touch with reality.

    • John says:

      Uh, clearly you might not know what you’re talking about. First, I’m not sure she actually said that, it’s nowhere in the article; it may be an overly provacative Variety editor who paraphrased her. Second, the fees paid to talent on an indie movie of 5M are not that high. If you do one a year or less and live in NY, have some kids in school, etc., that would qualify as “you can’t make a living on indie films.” Third, the “average person” who goes to see a film like Still Alice is statistically better educated and thus probably makes more than you think.

      • John says:

        Stand corrected on the quote, missed it. My larger point still stands, though.

        I said “the ‘average person’ who goes to see a film like Still Alice,” not a college kid lining up for… wait, what indie films are college kids going to see these days, anyway?

        You don’t know what Moore makes, I don’t know why you would even presume to make that comment. You also don’t know what her mortgage is, or her kids tuition, or… well ANYTHING about her personal finances. Then you extract some phony generalization about celebrities or rich people or whatever and why their politics suck blah blah blah — you basically go on some minor screed that comes from pure conjecture and some insecurity about how much money you make. The point Moore was making is that indie films don’t pay a lot. This is not news, it’s not a controversial statement, it’s not an exaggeration, it’s not even that big a deal — to people who work in movies. Which you obviously don’t.

      • cardmarc58 says:

        John, did you bother to read the article? it say’s [ Moore noted]. “You need a commercial profile so that investors will invest in something smaller that I’m in. You can’t make a living doing just indie films.”
        So it is something she said, not just a “Variety editor” making things up.

        Your comment about the average person who sees Indie films being “statistically better educated” is correct, because a large part of the indie following audience are college students, thus they probably are not making more than an average person.

        The median household income for the U.S. is just under $52,000 a year and Ms. Moore makes more than that per year off interest alone from money in the bank.

        The majority of celebrities are out of touch with the real world and the average person making a living and when comments like that are made it makes it easy to know how out of touch with reality that celebrity really is. It also makes me wonder why average day to day people listen to any type of life advice or their opinions on politics from people so out of touch with the normal world.

    • SaffronGrey says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. I found it a teeny bit insulting.

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