Tribeca Film Festival rebounds after missteps

Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:42am EDT
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By Gregg Goldstein

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Last year should have been triumphant for Robert De Niro and his fellow founders of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Launched in 2002 to help revive post-9/11 downtown Manhattan, Tribeca expanded throughout the city, drawing more than half a million people.

Instead, 2007 turned out to be a Tribeca kvetch fest: New ticket prices were too high, people complained. Added uptown theaters made the festival too hard to navigate, with some missing tightly scheduled screenings due to travel delays.

The volume of films (157 features) and the quality of many got slammed. Film executives carped it wasn't commercial enough to work as a market -- while others called the lineup too commercial.

So in the months that followed, De Niro and partners Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff did what some never thought would happen: They decided to put the so-called "festival that ate Manhattan" on a diet.

"We started so quickly and tried a lot of different things," Rosenthal says. "As people brought up constructive criticism, we addressed it."

For 2008's event, which runs from Wednesday through May 4, Tribeca has cut its lineup by nearly 25 percent (to 121 features), eliminated those uptown venues and set up just two screening hubs, in Union Square and Tribeca.

Ticket prices that jumped from $12 to $18 last year have been reduced to $15, and many weekend and midnight shows are now just $8.   Continued...

<p>Robert De Niro waits for the start of a media day regarding this year's Tribeca Film Festival in New York April 13, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>