Although it’s not getting a ton of detailed coverage in the mainstream media here in the US, you’re no doubt at least aware of the riots that have been spreading across London for days now. Well now the civil unrest of people mostly under the age of 20 has had a huge, unforeseen impact on the Britain film industry. Late last night rioters set fire to a Pias/Sony warehouse that contained hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of DVDs and Blu-rays, which represented the entire supplies of several independent film distributors.
We’re not talking about this week’s shipment of Mars Needs Moms Blu-rays melting, we’re talking about small champions of independent cinema losing their entire catalogs. Among the affected are BFI, Artificial Eye, Dogwoof, Guerilla Films, Peccadillo Pictures, Arrow Video, Terracotta Video, as well as a number of indie record labels.
Of course, the building and its contents were insured by Sony and it is expected that each of the film distributors will eventually be covered, but the pressing problem is that these companies simply can’t afford to suddenly have zero DVDs to ship to purchasers. The home video business may be on decline, but it is still the primary financial support beam for film distributors large and small, and the trouble is if you’re small, your company requires a standard flow of indie movies like Restrepo and Food Inc. to have enough cash flow to keep things moving. Now that that cash flow has gone up in a firey blaze, a number of these small companies are in real trouble between now and when insurance can cover what was lost.
Way to go, rioters.