Not all films getting released in theaters in these times are doing so with the enthusiastic support of their creators.
Synchronic, distributed by Well Go USA, isn’t exactly a major release. Starring Anthony Mackie and James Dornan, the movie follows paramedics in New Orleans as their work becomes entangled with otherworldly terror caused by a designer drug from somewhere... not quite right. It’s a small, independent sci-fi film, well liked from a festival appearance and ready for a small, respectable theatrical showing. At least, it would be, were it not for the pandemic. And yet Well Go USA is going ahead with that showing, with the film coming to theaters and drive-ins on October 23rd. The directors, Justin Benson and Aaron Morehead, as well as the producer, David Lawson, have some thoughts about this.
In a statement posted on Instagram, the three creators say that, “at the time of writing this, we personally wouldn’t go to an indoor movie theater, so we can’t encourage you to.” They explain that the film’s distribution situation is out of their control, and assure audiences that the film will be available via on-demand “in a few months” for those who want to watch it without risking their lives.
So far as I can tell, this is a fairly unprecedented disavowal from a filmmaker regarding the distribution of their film during the pandemic. Typically, the films that have released during covid-19 have done so with the (reported, anyway) support of their creators. A public statement at odds with the distributor, urging viewers not to go see your movie, is a strong stance. It’s also, y’know, one of the only ethical stances to take when movie theaters in the United States are presently capable of spreading a plague. You can read the full statement above.
Synchronic comes out October 23rd. Should you go see it? To paraphrase its creators: No. No, do not.
Update 9/15/2020, 4:30 p.m. ET: The distributor of Synchronic, Well Go USA, released the following statement:
“Well Go USA has a long and valued history with our friends at Rustic Films, including future projects; we applaud them for expressing themselves and encourage the same for all the artists we work with. Nonetheless, we stand behind the guidelines developed by NATO for the public and theaters to follow and stay safe enjoying movies on the big screen.”
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