I think that 2013 will be seen as a massive turning point in terms of how media is delivered into your home and how it is consumed. More than any other year, 2013 signified the decline of traditional cinema and release patterns. The multiplex seems more dominated than ever by the big blockbuster and sequels with no place for the films that fit in between. The mid-tier thriller or drama without prestige or huge explosions doesn’t seem to exist anymore as far as cinemas go and these films head straight to DVD or a streaming subscription service.
General audiences seem to not quite understand the business model for distribution and so anything that didn’t appear on cinema screens or was advertised in a newspaper or on TV and appears on DVD shelves or on streaming, is sadly being ignored.
In the UK we are somewhere in between the process at the moment with our cinema chains still refusing to show films that have already appeared or will shortly appear on video on demand services. There have been one or two exceptions but due to this process, films like The Kings of Summer, which is a bona fide classic, are going unseen in favour of easier to market bigger budget fare.
It has to be only a matter of time before people wake up to the way things are headed in this country, there are too many cinema releases now that are being shoved aside and would be better served by debuting on a pay per view service in the comfort of one’s own home. Distributors need to look at what companies like Curzon and Now TV are doing and follow suit.
In the USA they have taken to the on demand model with greater enthusiasm and had great success so that the mid-tier films now have a greater shelf life than over here. Sadly this has left a lot of great titles in a release limbo over here so we still haven’t gotten a release of Beyond the Black Rainbow, Man of Tai Chi or The Grandmaster. Now apparently some of the titles on the below list got a cinema release date, however I’ll be damned if I could find anywhere showing them even in central London. If you saw any of the below in a cinema that wasn’t the Prince Charles then please let me know.
Anyway, the ten greatest films that skipped cinemas and ended up straight to the home formats in 2013 are as follows:
10. John Dies at the End
Aside from showing at some film festivals at the back-end of 2012 and quite a bit of buzz amongst the horror crowd, Don Coscarelli’s adaptation of David Wong’s sprawling, surreal and hilarious novel suffered the indignity of going direct to DVD as an Asda exclusive. It has gone wider at this point and is now available everywhere but there is no question this film deserved better.
Having read the book, the leads are slightly miscast and Coscarelli doesn’t quite capture all of the hilarity present in the text which is like Clerks crossed with Naked Lunch. They also blatantly run out of money towards the end leading to a finale which doesn’t work due to the budget required to do the visuals justice.
However any film that tries something new and includes sentient narcotics, meat monsters and invaders from another dimension is okay in my book and John Dies at the End is well worth a watch and may yet become a huge cult hit.