By David Poland email@example.com
My Card. My Life. My Oh My Those Tix Are Expensive
I was disgusted to read this morning – yes, disgusted – that The Tribeca Film Festival, which has just started to emerge from being anything more than a failure for anyone other than The Tribeca Film Festival, is kicking up ticket prices by about 50%, from $12 to $18.
This is just a jaw dropper for anyone who knows film festivals. For one thing, Tribeca started as the second highest capitalized film festival in America, just behind Sundance… from Day One. American Express and others have kicked in millions to a budget said to exceed $12 million a year. But oh, that hasn’t stopped the festival from whoring itself out in new and unique ways year after year. Last year seemed to be a low as a festival could go, with the Mission:Impossible III television program, funded in part by the festival.
But kicking up the ticket prices… it is so antithetical to what a film festival is meant to do… especially one dedicated to rebuilding the community of Manhattan’s 9/11 beaten Tribeca. (The festival is also expanding uptown this year, making a festival said by many attendees to be too spread out even more spread out… but that’s another drama.)
For one thing, none of the ticket money goes to the filmmakers who, as with all festivals, balance being exploited with the hope of exploiting the exposure. So there is no benefit to the many who contribute films – whether distributors or filmmakers – to the increase.
Second, anyone who has ever seen a festival budget knows that ticket sales are a small part of what pays for a festival, Toronto being somewhat of the exception. But if Tribeca actually sells 100,000 tickets this year – which would be a really high sales (not attendance) estimate – they have added $600,000 to their overall income or around 5% of their budget. It’s not chicken feed. But it is a relatively small amount of their budget that comes directly from the one group that can least afford the added expense.
Plus… it’s just so f-ing arrogant. The excuse given to indieWIRE in their excellent coverage was, in part, “”unique experience that cannot be re-created.” True… because most of their crap programming will never be seen again.
Tribeca needs a serious rethink of what the purpose of the festival’s existence is, because even though there are plenty of buyers in Manhattan, there are very few sales… which is inevitable, since there is no reason for any more festival markets than we already have… and as I have recently written, the need for them is getting lesser ever day.
So the purpose of Tribeca is now to gouge supportive, ambitious, daring filmgoers for an extra $6 a ticket to see product that is hit and miss (as at all fests) so that a few more TV ads and a few more rooms at the Soho Grand can be paid for? This is not DeNiro and Rosenthal’s vision. This is not the behavior of a serious film festival.
A celebration of film in Manhattan during the summer should be a thing of absolute beauty. Nothing would make me happier than to be a relentless supporter of this thing. But they were like a baby with a head two times too big to walk from the start and instead of getting better, it seems to get worse every year. They have the money. They have the attention of the media and the industry. Now it’s time for them to deliver something great. To have so much and to deliver so little… it hurts my heart.