Commentary by Hammerle

If Indianapolis wants to be recognized as one of the finest cities in the Midwest, then we have to focus on several matters that demand immediate attention. To begin with, have you noticed how sound barricades have been erected around our city on Interstate 465 but that none exist on Northbound 65 from the split with East I-70 and the Lafayette Road exit? Many neighborhoods come close to bordering I-65, nearly all of them occupied by African-American residents. Why are they forced to endure the noise flowing from the Interstate while much of our white suburban areas are spared?

On top of that, the bridge work and attached barriers are in disarray in much of the central city. The metal barriers rust while weeds grow on an around the bridges. Again, it doesn’t escape my attention that most of those living in these areas are black, so it really raises the question as to whether our Mayor and his cohorts really care?

keystoneart_posterBut the problem facing our city transcends racial issues. As a diehard movie fan, may I ask you to take a quick look at the availability of independent films in Marion County? More to the point, we have one independent theater operating in Indianapolis, and it is known as the Landmark Keystone Art Theater.

You will note its use of the phrase “Art”. That being the case, can someone please explain why on its six available screens, it is playing Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Great Gatsby. The fact that I personally liked all three is beside the point. What is not is the simple fact that the art cinema is denying movie fans access to independent films that continue to sit on the shelf for viewing weeks down the road.

What is so profoundly unacceptable with this policy is the fact that Landmark has a sweetheart deal with independent distributors that keeps films under contract from being played within at least 50 to 100 miles of its location. It means that it’s either their way or the highway.

Years ago, I was a frequent patron of the beat up independent theater (now closed) located on South Keystone. When I asked the owner why he was always so late in bringing these movies to his theater, he stated that he was prevented from doing so until the Art Cinema on the northside had them available for a certain number of weeks. In other words, he was forced to die on the vine whether cinemas like Landmark or the old Castleton Art Theater played them or not.

What is equally appalling is the fact that IMAX at the Indiana State Museum is contractually prevented from playing great films like Avatar (2009) and The Great Gatsby because of a deal with the representatives of the Simons who are running the downtown mall. In other words, I have been told by people working at the IMAX that they are prevented from bringing any film to their magnificent theater if it is playing on the screen at the downtown cinema.

What is the big deal, you ask? Well, dwell on the simple fact that the IMAX has the greatest screens of any theater existing in Indiana while those at the downtown mall reflect movie screens long ago abandoned. It is as astonishing as it is embarrassing that while our city wants people to come to the downtown area to watch both the Colts and the Pacers, they could have sellout crowds at the IMAX if they really cared about our city.