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Mar 12, 2008

Just a random thought...

I was just flipping channels the other night when the first Austin Powers popped up. I hadn't seen it in some time, so I put down the remote and started watching. However, the interesting thing to note is that the station I had stopped the remote on was the Independent Film Channel.


If anyone can tell me what about Austin Powers is independent, I'm all ears. The film was released by the now-defunct New Line Cinema, which was previously just a Warner Bros. subsidiary anyhow. TimeWarner = "independent?"

Now, I understand when films made by Miramax (started independent, was purchased by Disney) or Paramount Vantage or Warner Independent are shown on channels such as IFC or The Sundance Channel; at the least, even if they are parent-owned by a conglomerate, the films either have that "indie feel" to them or were produced independently and later purchased by the big boys. But airing Austin Powers is essentially no different than airing Titanic; there's nothing remotely independent about the film.

Months back, I ran a post about TV channels sacrificing their identity for ratings (Ice Road Truckers on The History Channel?), and to some extent, though I wholeheartedly disagree with that they're doing, I can at least understand it. This instance, however, bothers me more, because it fundamentally goes against everything the channel has built for itself. It would be akin to Comedy Central airing Schindler's List or Lifetime airing The Man Show.

Why betray your audience - and more importantly, why betray yourself?

Of course, I watched the movie, so I suppose I'm guilty of contributing to the cause. Told you this was just a random thought.

7 people have chosen wisely: on "Just a random thought..."

DCMovieGirl said...

I thought Peter Jackson saved New Line and The Golden Compass killed it?

Mikey Filmmaker said...

That is rather odd, but I think it may have something to do with the budget. The first Austin Powers had a really low budget. Less than 20 million and that is an independent film budget. I know Film Independent's Spirit Awards only allow films with less than a 25 million dollar budget compete.

Fletch said...

Though I understand the reasoning behind that 25 million dollar cutoff/designation, I disagree with that as well. Though there's a correlation, a film's budget really has nothing to do with whether or not it is independent. If Disney puts out direct-to-DVD sequels of Mulan, are they suddenly indies? I think not. Conversely, if I gather 50 venture capitalists to each give me a million for my movie, guess what? It's still independent.

Mikey Filmmaker said...

I see your point, but direct to dvd releases are a whole other animal all together. New Line did start out as an independent film studio before being acquired by Time Warner in the 90s. Even after the merger it still put out independent films. The problem is that the word independent is used to loosely and has lost its meaning.

NFL Adam said...

Word, Cotton, word. That would be like MTV showing music videos.

luke said...

I think what's really to blame here is the fact that there are some 500-ish cable/satellite/whatever channels out there, and they're all broadcasting round the clock, seven days a week. Finding that much programming is HARD--and it's even harder when you have to find it within a super-narrow range of the human experience (independent films, soccer, travel, whatever). Add to that the fact that almost all of these channels need to attract advertisers, and stuff like this is bound to happen.

Oh, behave.

Fletch said...

@ Luke - Those are all valid points that I agree with, but if they don't think they can sustain their programming on their niche alone, maybe they shouldn't start a niche channel to begin with.

For IFC, that reasoning really falls limp, though. They have a WORLD of independent films to fill their programming schedule with.