“Diggers” and the Movie Release Model

diggers1.jpgLast night, I went to the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in SoHo in New York City to see the movie Diggers. It’s a “coming of age” movie set out east, on the south shore of Long Island in 1976 and tells the story of a group of friends who are clam diggers and how they’re dealing with the commodization of their trade, their relationships and generally finding happiness. It was written by Ken Marino, who you may remember as a member of The State, one of my all-time favorite comedy groups. Since I’ve only known Marino from comedy, I assumed this would be a funny movie, and it was. But It was more of a serious drama with funny moments.

The cast is out and out fantastic. Paul Rudd, Maura Tierney, Sarah Paulson, Josh Hamilton (a very underrated actor in my opinion), Ron Eldard, Lauren Ambrose and Ken Marino as well round out the main characters and deliver a fantastic performance. I’m a native Long Islander, so I was excited and skeptical to see a story set in places I was very familiar with. At first, I cringed slightly at the accents the actors had adopted, but then I realized it wasn’t so much that the accents were bad, rather I wasn’t used to hearing these particular actors I have seen in many other roles speaking like my friends and family. Once I got over that, I realized they were all speaking as if they had grown up on Long Island. Very impressive acting.

I really enjoyed this movie, the story was compelling and you were able to connect with the individual characters in a meaningful way, so that when they hurt, you felt it and when they smiled you smiled as well. For a period piece with more drama than humor, I have to say I’m quite impressed by Marino’s script and the performances within. If this is playing by you I strong recommend it. Grade: B+

Now, separate from the content of the movie, I’d like to take a moment and look at the release model. Produced by HDNet Films, this movie was released worldwide in theaters this past Friday, April 27th, 2007. It also premiered last night on HDNet, Mark Cuban’s High Definition only channel, and it will be released on DVD on May 1st. One might think that, based on the old way of releasing movies, that this would indicate a bad movie. Straight to cable and DVD. Right? But that’s not the case here. Here we have an example, similar to Bubble by Steven Soderbergh, of the new way to release movies. Simultaneous release in theaters, cable and on DVD. By doing this, the thought is that it will eliminate the exclusivity of the theater only release and cut down on piracy. It also allows you, the viewer, to choose when and where you’d want to see the movie. I for one, love it. I think it’s genius. Will it affect theater business? Absolutely, but like any old business model, that needs to change. It makes no sense to have to wait to get a movie on DVD or via download until months after it runs out of theaters. Many people, like parents with small children etc, just cannot make it out to the theater. Where some people really enjoy the cinema and will always go to the theater when they can.

It all comes down to choice. The movie studios, and the MPAA (and the RIAA to boot) do not want to allow you to choose when and where and how you absorb your media. Whereas as technology evolves and the audience becomes more comfortable with new methods of watching content, their desire for choice will increase and then somethings gotta give. I hope this new method of release is used for a large release movie and then we could really see the affect of it on the bottom line, but until then, efforts like Diggers and Bubble continue to give me hope.

One thought on ““Diggers” and the Movie Release Model

  1. Dang, I didn’t realized this was on HDNet (which I actually get). I saw this reviewed on Ebert & Roeper a few days ago and both reviewers raved about it. I’ll have to try and rent the DVD.

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