×

DocXchange Looks to Boost Doc Biz With Exhibitors Collective

TORONTO – When it comes to the subject of documentary features in brick-and-mortar theaters, the recent run of strong box-office performances is the headline-grabber.

But Hot Docs hopes we’ll see more stories in the near future about other cities launching venues similar to its Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, located on Toronto’s bustling Bloor Street corridor, where audiences gather to watch, discuss, and celebrate first-run documentary features year-round.

To encourage venue operators or doc organizations – and, hopefully, their philanthropic supporters – to take the plunge, Hot Docs has banded with the Maysles Documentary Center (New York), Bertha DocHouse (London), and La Compagna (Florence) to create the Documentary Exhibitors Collective, which they’re dubbing DocXchange.

Spearheaded by Hot Docs’ president Chris McDonald, Bertha’s Elizabeth Wood, and Campagna’s Camilla Toschi, the collective’s mission is to raise the profile of docs by offering “support and collaboration for documentary enthusiasts to create venues – from converted shopfronts to 500-seat deco cinemas – to inspire filmmakers and the public to ‘turn doc’!” said the group.

“We want there to be more venues than ours in the world,” McDonald told Variety at the start of the 2019 Hot Docs festival, which wraps May 5.

“We are sharing best practices, tips on what programs are doing well, films that have performed and under-performed,” he said. “And as the big sister in the foursome, we are opening up our books and our business plans for others to see how we’ve done it.”

The larger goal of this, McDonald continued, is about helping filmmakers. “Our mandate is to showcase this art form and to help filmmakers to get them made and distributed and seen.”

Hot Docs’ own learning curve over the course of running and expanding the festival for over 25 years and, in particular, since launching its own cinema in March 2012, has shown the organization that being competitive isn’t always the best or only choice for finding success. “Over time we realized that the opposite is true. Every time we sit down with another group we are all learning practical things that help us all.

“With a festival, where you get bigger every year, you learn to live within your means, and anticipate and plan for various outcomes,” McDonald said. “In our second year of running the cinema, our box office was down significantly, and it dawned on us—we’re in a marketplace, we don’t control content the same way we do when planning the festivals.”

What the cinema’s programmers learned is that special or enhanced programming helps boost the box office when it’s a slow year for theatrical. In addition to its long-running Doc Soup series, Hot Docs has also created programming such as its Curious Minds series.

McDonald said he and his DocXchange collaborators plan to actively chat up the organization and the benefits of membership on the festival circuit in the months ahead: “We want to take the mystery out of running a dedicated documentary cinema.”

CREDIT: Gabriel Li/Hot Docs

 

More Film

  • Amy Adams (left) as Lynne Cheney

    Film News Roundup: Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Sets Awards Show for Jan. 11

    In today’s film news roundup, the 2020 awards season schedule gets finalized; AFM will cover immersive content; “Murderous Trance” and “7 Days to Vegas” get acquired; and Kate Katzman has been added to “The Comeback Trail.” AWARDS DATE The Makeup Artists & Hair Stylists Guild has set Jan. 11 as the date for its seventh [...]

  • Disney Pandora World Of Avatar, Lake

    The Piano Guys Play 'Avatar' Theme in Disney World (Watch)

    The YouTube sensation The Piano Guys have taken a trip to the world of Pandora for a performance of the theme to “Avatar.” Shot in the bioluminescent floating forest in Disney World, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson and pianist Jon Schmidt put their spin on the score to James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster. The video immerses the [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Billy Drago, 'Untouchables' Star, Dies at 73

    Billy Drago, who often played harming but chilling gangster roles and appeared in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables” and Clint Eastwood’s “Pale Rider,” died Monday in Los Angeles of complications from a stroke. He was 73. The character actor played Al Capone’s henchman Frank Nitti in 1987’s “The Untouchables.” On TV series “Charmed,” he put [...]

  • Grant Sputore

    'I Am Mother' Director Tackles Margot Robbie-Produced Thriller 'Augmented'

    Warner Bros. has hired “I Am Mother” director Grant Sputore to helm the science-fiction thriller “Augmented” which Margot Robbie is producing, Variety has learned exclusively. Michael Lloyd Green is rewriting an original script by Mark Townend. Denise Di Novi and Tom Ackerley are also producing. Production companies are Robbie’s LuckyChap and Di Novi’s eponymous Di [...]

  • Miley Cyrus

    Miley Cyrus Teases 'Charlie's Angels' Collaboration with Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey

    Three of the biggest female pop stars have joined forces in a new song for the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot of “Charlie’s Angels.” In a tweet posted Wednesday, Miley Cyrus hinted at a collaboration between herself, Lana Del Rey, and Ariana Grande in the forthcoming film. Alongside a 14-second teaser, originally posted by Sony Pictures, the [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Subscription Program Hits 860k Members

    AMC’s subscription service, launched in 2018 as a challenger to MoviePass, has reached 860,129 members in its first 12 months. Given the unwieldy moniker of AMC Stubs A-List, the service costs between $19.95 to $23.95 per month depending on where users live. The company initially said it had hoped to sign up 500,000 members in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content