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

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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