A24 Releasing (burying?) The Sixth to Amazon Prime

Sam Adams, in Slate, asks why A24 would bury its newest documentary film The Sixth. He calls it buried because there will be no theatrical release. Here’s Adams’ thinking:

Instead of streaming for free on Prime to a potential audience in the tens of millions, The Sixth is currently a $19.99 digital purchase, and although it will be available for rental Thursday, neither price point is likely to reach even a fraction of the viewers—especially when so few of them even know that it’s there. Did the studio behind Civil War get cold feet when it came to the depiction of a nonfictional uprising, or did it simply make the calculation that the documentary wasn’t worth the expense of a theatrical release? The Sixth itself suggests a third, equally troubling possibility: One of the darkest days in American history has simply become too uncomfortable to talk about.

Perhaps we will find out for sure soon enough. But I will quibble with one point: Going straight to streaming is no longer any indication of burying a documentary. It’s really standard these days. There are so many more good documentary films produced globally than ever see theatrical distribution. You’ll find them on streaming services — including Oscar winners. I’ll have more to say about this later.

Despite that minor quibble, I’m wondering the same thing as Adams. What gives?

Is it too uncomfortable or too soon? Or too polarizing, i.e. A24 would rather not piss off a chunk of audience that might be persuaded to see its latest feature Civil War. I haven’t seen Civil War — and I might not — but I have heard the filmmakers try to stay clear of the current political divide. I find the idea of an alliance between California and Texas howlingly funny. When in doubt, head for a parallel universe, amiright? But who knows? Maybe it works.

Might be kinda hard to maintain that teetering position on the fence for your audience(s) if you’re also releasing a film about a real insurrection.

I’m looking forward to more reporting on this.

See also: How a documentary about the Jan 6 insurrection covers new ground.

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