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Summer Indie Films Aim at Older, Smart Audience

Summer is the busiest time of year at the multiplexes, with the major studios throwing wannabe blockbusters at every open date and big-budget sequels gobbling up all available screens.

For indie films, it’s the perfect time of the year.

“People are in the moviegoing habit during the summer, but there’s a smart audience out there that wants more than the latest superhero or another alien invasion,” Sony Pictures Classics Co-President Tom Bernard told TheWrap.

“It’s counter-programming — and for us, releasing films in the summer has worked year-in and year-out.”

Sony Pictures Classics is venturing into the belly of the beast once again this year.

On Memorial Day weekend, which brings the debuts of “The Hangover Part III” and “Fast & Furious 6,” SPC is releasing a sequel of its own: Richard Linklater’s low-budget, talky and touching “Before Midnight,” a movie whose only explosions are emotional.

The company is also releasing the Israeli drama “Fill the Void” at the same time, while Focus Features will use the weekend to put out the Alex Gibney documentary “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.”

For Bernard, a crowded summer is simply an opportunity to show off films aimed at an audience that isn’t interested in the movies vying for $100 million openings.

“Our audience is sometimes an older audience, and it’s a solid moviegoing audience 52 weeks out of the year,” he said. “And they normally don’t like to see the explosion movies.

“The only time it’s bad for is if there’s a studio movie that captures our audience, like the ‘Bourne’ movies did. But if you look at the kind of films that are going to be out there this summer, our audience doesn’t want to see those films.”

The summer of 2013 has already seen the release of several indies, including Noah Baumbach’s black-and-white gem “Frances Ha,” with Greta Gerwig.

Still to come: Fox Searchlight’s “The Way, Way Back”  from the writers of “The Descendants”; the Weinstein Co.’s “Fruitvale Station,” which won the top jury and audience prizes at Sundance; A24’s “The Spectacular Now,” with Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley; Roadside Attractions‘ “Thanks for Sharing,” the directorial debut of “The Kids Are All Right” writer Stuart Blumberg.

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