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Steven Soderbergh says studios are keeping 'cinema' out of movie theaters

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AMC movie theater logo (STOCK)
AMC movie theater logo (STOCK)

Fewer viewers are going to the movies each year, and more of what they're seeing is from big-budget studios. But at the same time, an increasingly vast majority of what's being made is independent and — not surprisingly — struggling to be seen. Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, who has successfully navigated the industry with both studio hits, such as Ocean's Eleven, and acclaimed independent releases, such as Sex, Lies, and Videotape, spoke at length about the state of the filmmaking industry during a keynote at the San Francisco International Film Festival on Saturday. These days, Soderbergh said, having an independent film reach an audience is like "trying to hit a thrown baseball with another thrown baseball."

The crux of the director's talk was about what he considers the distinction between cinema and movies, and how he believes that studios are keeping real pieces of art out of theaters because it might hurt the bottom line. "The idea of cinema as I’m defining it is not on the radar of the studios," Soderbergh said. "It’s not a word you would ever want to use in a meeting." Deadline has a full transcript of the speech, which draws a sorry picture for the state of art within the studio system.