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What is Independent Cinema?

A film lover’s dream 

If you consider yourself a film lover, visiting us at Regent Street Cinema is a must. As an independent cinema, we screen the latest releases and big box office attractions, but we also show films that are produced by smaller film production companies, outside of the major studios. Our passion is giving a platform to indie films and productions which offer our audiences something a little different to the mainstream. Independent films are niche, provocative, transgressive, and edgy – these are the films that will stay with you long after the credits have finished rolling.

What can you expect from your local independent cinema?

From a practical point of view, you can expect all the mod cons you’d find in any cinema. However, unlike the large chains, we have an unbeatable ambience of unique décor that is steeped in history. Our independent status also allows us to offer something a little bit different when it comes to refreshments. We stock locally sourced food and drink so you can enjoy good quality refreshments whilst knowing you’re supporting our local community.

Because many independent cinemas show fewer films at the same time, as opposed to the ten or more in the multiplexes, you are unlikely to have to put up with lengthy queues and noisy crowds. We offer membership benefits that reward our audiences with loyalty discounts.

In addition, you will be supporting a small business, which in turn supports independent filmmakers. By choosing to watch your next film with us - whether that’s an experimental indie production or a Hollywood blockbuster - then you are helping us to support creativity, diversity, and innovation. You will not only have an enjoyable evening out but also give something back to the industry that gives you (and us) so much enjoyment.

The benefits of choosing a good indie film

A good film has the power to affect us on a visceral level. Those in the independent film industry are motivated by expressing their personal artistic vision, compelled to tell their story, as opposed to being restrained by the pressure to achieve commercial success. This is why the content and style are often so easily distinguishable from the mainstream film.

We are just as passionate about film as the filmmakers are. Independent cinemas are the lifeblood of the film industry, giving a platform to the emerging talents of the film industry - the unknown actors, writers, directors, and crew - uniting a huge variety of films with the audiences who care about them.

Films created by the independent film industry typically have considerably lower budgets and produce short films compared to the length of feature films, but this does not mean that they can’t become a box office smash. A case in point, the 1999 smash hit The Blair Witch Project. A supernatural horror film running for 80 minutes, this indie horror was shown at the Sundance Film Festival to huge acclaim. It went on to gross nearly $250 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful independent films ever, as well as becoming the 41st most profitable horror film of all time. 

Actors in independent films get noticed 

Well-known actors often take substantial pay cuts when cast in independent films. This can be because they truly believe in the message of the film, or because they want to work under an independent director who has a reputation for being highly talented, or maybe they are returning the favour of being given their big break into film. The most well-known example of this scenario is John Travolta and Bruce Willis taking less pay to star in Pulp Fiction. 

Another example is the then-unknown actor called Sylvester Stallone starring in an indie film called Rocky in 1976. You may have heard of it? It went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. The Rocky franchise has become so popular over the years that it holds the top 4 top spots for highest-grossing boxing films. Since the film’s release, the franchise has hauled in a mind-boggling $1.7 billion.

In 2007, a small indie film called Juno made a star of Elliot Page (then known as Ellen Page), who has gone on to earn many nominations and accolades in his own right. The film was made on just a $7.5 million budget but really made a significant impact. The film went on to bring in $231.4 million worldwide. The film had such a low budget that Jennifer Garner took a pay cut to keep the costs down. 

The role of the international film festival 

A common film distribution strategy is trying to get noticed at international film festivals. Events like these offer excellent opportunities for filmmakers to meet and connect with other filmmakers and form friendships in the hope that they open up new opportunities, whilst generating a buzz around their film. The most prestigious film festivals in the world are known as the "Big Three" held in Venice, Cannes and Berlin. The most prestigious film festivals in North America are Sundance and Toronto. 

How can you support independent cinema? 

You can support independent films by watching them in independent cinemas, like ours at Regent Street Cinema. We are a film lover's dream, being the birthplace of British cinema - it's here that in 1896, the Lumière brothers' Cinématographe was first shown to a paying audience. 

Even if your nearest cinema is a large multiplex operator, it’s always a good idea to find out about, and visit an independently funded cinema as not only are you supporting the running of the cinema, but they often have a wider range of indie films to watch. 

If you have a social media account such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, follow @RegentStCinema and get talking about independent cinema!