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in Filmmaking
on Nov 28, 2007

A few years ago producer Ted Hope was at the forefront of the indie campaign against the major studios’ “screener policy” — the edict that specialty film companies could not use mailed promotional screeners in their Academy campaigns. Hope, along with producer Jeff Levy-Hinte and a group of allied production companies, won a court battle and the studio policy was reversed.

Now, Hope has emailed about another issue concerning screeners — specifically, their impact on the environment. While other parts of the industry are going green, the mailed output of two companies in particular are not.

From Ted Hope:

After years of filling land fills with unnecessary “standard” DVD cases with all the various screeners’ packaging, this year the various distribs have finally gotten green and eliminated all that excessive plastic-ness. Did I say all the distribs? Well, almost.

Lionsgate led the way to some more environmentally sound practices last year with their cardboard folders. This year it seems everyone but New Line, Picturehouse, and Disney have abandoned the plastic.

So far, the list of eco screener offenders (and thus top contenders to what have been nicknamed “cellophanes” in honor of never shedding their plastic sheath) are: New Line’s Hairspray, Rendition, The Last Mimzy; Picture House’s La Vie En Rose, The Orphanage; and Disney’s Dan In Real Life.

Now there are some movies here that should not be missed (and I am glad I saw them in theaters), but this plastic silliness should stop! Why with all we know do such practices continue? (And why is a nickel bigger than a dime? Why can studio heads make $60M for being fired when writers can’t get more than two cents for a DVD sale?)

I have written these offenders and encouraged them to get in line, and I hope other Academy members & Guild Members are encouraged to do so too. Ah, if only there was a world where not only do creators get paid fairly for their work, but waste and landfill are not a byproduct of their efforts. This moment seems like an opportunity to both point out the injustice of the studio’s DVD residual payments as well as their poor environmental practices.

If others want to follow suit, this is the letter I sent to Time Warner’s New Line and Picturehouse, and you are welcome to use or adapt it for your own letter.

I am not sure if you are the correct contact, and if not please forward this on, but as an Academy Member in the Producers’ Branch, I recently had the pleasure of receiving “screeners” for a great bunch of New Line & Picture House films. I have been looking forward to seeing the ones that I haven’t yet seen in the theaters.

Unfortunately I was very discouraged that New Line and Picturehouse have not followed suit with ALL the other studios (well, all but Disney) and evolved to environmentally friendly packaging. The film industry must lead the way and do all we can to help reduce waste.

I hope New Line and Picturehouse both reconsider this practice of plastic packaging of “screeners” in the future. In fact I hope that New Line and Picturehouse both reconsider the packaging of all their DVDS — maybe the two cents that they save while helping the world could even go to a more fair residual rate for the creators!

Happy holidays.

Here are corporate press contacts for both New Line/Picturehouse as well as Walt Disney Pictures and, again, if you are concerned about this issue feel free to adapt the above letter.

Candice McDonough
Director, Publicity and Corporate Communications
New Line Cinema

Ryan Stankevich
Walt Disney Pictures

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