Unseen director pleads for a screen

Will The Last Jedi make other films invisible?

by Jennie Kermode

Gary Sinyor's request to Bob Iger
Gary Sinyor's request to Bob Iger

Concern over Star Wars: The Last Jedi monopolising cinema screens next month has come to a head with Gary Sinyor, director of British thriller The Unseen, taking out an advert in the Guardian to ask Disney CEO Bob Iger to free up a screen in London for his film.

"The new Star Wars film is going to be not just in every cinema complex but also nearly every screen and for nearly every performance... One small screen in Central London would have a negligible effect on them but means a huge amount to an independent British feature film," Sinyor said.

Having a choice about what to see is also likely to matter to the public, with 22% of UK residents visiting cinemas more often over the Christmas period that at any other time of year.

The Star Wars film's domination of screens is a result of strict terms imposed by Disney, which is requiring cinemas to show it for four weeks on each screen booked if they want to show it at all. Disney also requires them to pay it 65% of revenues, 5% to 10% above the usual amount, which has led to a rebellion in the US, with some cinemas deciding to boycott it.

Unseen star Jasmine Hyde recently spoke to Eye For Film about her experience of making the film with its small cast and crew. Although 35% of box office revenue in the UK goes to British-made films, this figure used to be higher and there is ongoing concern that big US productions can crowd indie projects out of the market.

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