‘indie’ blockbuster franchise??

‘Indie blockbuster franchise’ is not an oxymoron, argues Kristen Thompson in a detailed blog entry about The Lord of the Rings films, the Twilight series and The Hunger Games. It’s a useful piece about the industrial provenance of these titles. But I wouldn’t call any of these films  ‘indie’ in terms of the qualities of the films themselves, even if they might be the product of entities independent of the major studios (but only this even in some cases, given the status of New Line in this era as clearly a mainstream-oriented part of the Time-Warner empire). This is all up to debate, of course, and depends on difference usages of the term. For me, ‘indie’ isn’t just a short-form of ‘independent’ and isn’t usefully employed to describe any film that comes from a company that is strictly independent of the major studios (as has been pointed out before, otherwise we have to include in this category the last three films in the Star Wars series). I prefer to use indie to signify a particular range of independent practice – films, the institutions surrounding them, the basis of their reception – rather than as a contraction for any kind of independence (for a bit more on this see the definitions page elsewhere on this site; and for another similar definition of indie see Michael Newman’s excellent Indie: An American Film Culture). Definitions employed very widely that ignore the qualities/types of actual films involved seem too broad to me and not helpful; not, at least, for anyone for whom films themselves rather than just business practices are of substantial interest (which isn’t, of course, to suggest that the business dimension isn’t also a crucial part of the picture if we’re to understand any forms of cinema).

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