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Miramax, for example, released the performance-based friendship drama Walking and Talking (1996) within days of two of its biggest films of the year, adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma and Irving Walsh’s Trainspotting. 8 million, sold to Miramax for $10 million and grossing $26 million in the USA. 62 A strong stock market provided the means for such investment. 66 Financial arrangements tended to become more complicated than ever, although there was little sign of a reduction in the level of production.

The festival circuit expanded during the 1990s but became heavily oversupplied. 67 By 2004, the feature total reached a record 2,426 applications. To fail to get into Sundance or one of the other major festivals is a blow for many independents, significantly reducing their chances of gaining distribution, although films can sometimes get picked up as a result of screenings at smaller festivals. Some complain that Sundance has become dominated by films filled with stars, stardirectors or star-producers that are already assured of a place in the market, rather than primarily being an opportunity for the discovery of new and innovative work, although the precise mix tends to shift somewhat from year to year (2004, for example, saw a diverse range, including top dramatic prize for the ultra-low-budget Primer).

24 An audience was also available for independent cinema during the 1980s, the demographic product of the maturing ‘baby boom’ generation of the 1960s. This is usually characterized as a generally more ‘discriminating’ audience than that attracted by the products of mainstream Hollywood. Such viewers, often older than the main audience targeted by Hollywood and more than averagely likely to be urban and college educated, have continued to constitute a core target group for independent films, although, as will be seen below, production, marketing and distribution strategies often involve attempts to extend the appeal of individual films to a variety of other distinctive social groups.

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