Monday, March 05, 2007
R.I.P.: Premiere magazine (1987-2007)
And another one bites the dust. Sure, it will live on in an on-line incarnation. But today's kiss-off of Premiere as a print publication sends a chill down my spine, as I realize that print media are an increasinly endangered species. As a long-time subscriber and reader -- I remember writing about the magazine's inception during my days with The Houston Post -- I feel ineffably sad. Not quite as though a close friend has died. But more like a workplace friend has been transferred to another city. Permanently.
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It is always sad when a mass market magazine like Premiere dies, but when was the last time you bought the mag and didn't feel like you wished you had saved your money. I feel the US Premiere's glory days were in the late 80s and early 90s, but even then the coverage was focused on mainstream American studio. With a fraction of the budget, mags like Filmmaker and Independent Filmmaker (or the indispensable bimonthly, Film Comment) may appear less frequently, but they do acknowledge a film culture beyond big budget genre films. I did read the occasionally good piece in recent issues of Premiere and enjoyed their DVD reviews, but not enough to want to become a steady buyer again or even a subscriber. For those filmgoers who lap up every studio release without question every Friday, the question arises - do they actually care about reading coverage about films they probably barely remember once Monday rolls around. Perhaps what is really needed is a magazine not like Uncut or Mojo in the UK, but targeted at discerning DVD consumers...then again, perhaps at day's end, film mags in North America can only survive as a niche phenomenon. As a writer, I feel bad for the staff and freelancers, but as a reader, I prefer the niche mags like FC or Cineaste or the online riches of greencine daily, some great blogs and sites...
As I said, I'm a long-time subscriber. And I see nothing wrong with an intelligent magazine devoted primarily to mainstream movies. But, then again, remember this: I am old enough to remember when cutting-edge movies like Bonnie and Clyde and Medium Cool and Network and even Taxi Driver were considered mainstream movies because they were distributed by major studios, not indies or "dependants." Those were the days, my friend.
Out of all the different categories of print magazines out there, film magazines are probably among the most susceptible (at this time) to the internet devouring their readerships. Film and the web are merging -- no doubt about that. I'm just stunned that it happened to such a high profile maglike this one. Butaybe this wasn't a move of desperation--maybe it was just plain smarts.
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