TFC is stoked to be at SXSW 2013! In preparation of this year’s festival, we’ve taken a good look at how films performed that premiered at the festival last year. Always good to know a few facts.
This is the only major film festival in the US that is a FOR PROFIT. As of this writing, it is also the only one that does not provide grant and/or distribution support directly to at least some of their films. In addition, the festival coincides with a tech conference where companies like Twitter were launched and it is the largest music festival in the United States. All of the above can make it very easy for films to get lost in the shuffle.
With all that said, slightly over 2/3 of films that world premiered at the festival last year secured some form of domestic distribution. While these numbers might seem bleak, they aren’t as bad as they appear. Noticeably absent from last year’s list are the big indie players like SPC, Focus Features and TWC. These companies often exhaust their funds at Sundance and EFM looking for bigger tent-pole releases. Still the festival is one of the best launching pads for an indie film in North America. IFC, Magnolia, Factory 25, Phase 4, Go Digital, Anchor Bay, Cinedigm, and Snag Films all acquired multiple films. I expect many of these companies to be in play again this year as well as a lot of distributors that were outbid on films during the buying frenzy at Sundance this year.
From last year’s premiere crop that were not studio releases, there have been three films that have grossed over $100,000 in domestic box office (though I expect one more to reach that mark). Roadside Attractions acquired rights to Blue Like Jazz before the festival and the film has far and away the highest grossing theatrical revenue with $595,018 for 8 weeks on a max screen count of 136 . The film notably raised $345,992 on Kickstarter, almost 3x its stated goal. Adapted from Donald Miller’s memoir, the film came with a large fan-base already attached and was widely supported by the Christian community. Take heed of this fact!
PDA self-released the child chess documentary Brooklyn Castle after raising funds via Kickstarter. The film also sold remake rights for a TV series. To date it has grossed slightly over $200,000 after 11 weeks in theaters with a max screen count of 13 which, while out performing all other documentaries from the festival, makes it the lowest grossing PDA release.
Beware of Mr Baker, meanwhile, has become something of a surprise hit and just passed the century mark at the box office. It is now available on iTunes where it is in the top 100. A little under ½ the film’s tally came from one theater in NYC. So far, it has played 12 weeks in a maximum of 15 theaters. This doc is exactly reflective of the film one expects to see at the festival. It is a music focused film with a young director and edgy subject matter. Snag Films holds all digital rights to the film. This is notably much better than fellow Snag Films doc, Decoding Deepak, which reported opening weekend grosses of $9100 on 3 screens and quickly faded out of the theater. Both have most likely done solid numbers on digital platforms as marquee titles for Snag.
Like Blue Like Jazz, Fat Kid Rules The World was massively successful on Kickstarter raising $158,000 for its theatrical release. Matthew Lillard made his directorial debut with this film based on an award winning book that has many shades of his punk music upbringing. The film’s production budget was reportedly $750K. However, the film only grossed $41,457 in a one week run according to reported theatrical box office numbers. The theatrical consisted of a dozen cities with additional screenings supported by TUGG. It was released in partnership with Arc Entertainment.
Music Box Films has steered Starlet to over $88,000 with the film still playing in theaters, but near the end of the run. So far it played 12 weeks at a max screen count of 10. While not great numbers, the film about a unique friendship between an elderly recluse and a young porn star features real sex, which made it inaccessible to a number of theaters. Also still in theaters is the doc Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters about the notorious photographer. Zeitgeist keeps slowly adding dates and the film has steadily passed the $50k mark after 17 weeks with a max screen count of 3.
Performing on a smaller level were some well received documentaries. Oscilloscope’s Tchoupitoulas with $19,375 after 5 weeks on a max of 6 screens and Samuel Goldwyn’s Waiting for Lightning which got only $21,577 for one week on 11 screens.
On the narrative side, Cinedigm took horror film and midnight audience award winner Citadel to $13,377 in theaters for 9 weeks on a max of 7 screens and Red Flag Releasing handled the theatrical for the long delayed Duplass brothers film The Do-Decca Pentathlon. That film grossed $10,000 in its opening weekend on 8 screens and Fox Searchlight handled all other aspects of distribution.
TFC client Gayby was acquired for six figures out of the festival by Wolfe Releasing. The film grossed $14,062 from four screens and was the highest grossing gay comedy of the year. It played two weeks in Manhattan where it out-grossed all other films screening at The Cinema Village combined and later had a bonus run in Brooklyn. It also included a number of unique approaches. Most notably instead of a week-long theatrical in San Francisco, we held two special screenings at the Castro Theater. The gross for those screenings was higher than that of the entire run in the LA market. Though only out on DVD/Digital a few months, the film has already been profitable for Wolfe Releasing.
A lot of SXSW films embraced the youthful component of the festival and eschewed theatrical distribution entirely.
Documentaries: The Announcement, The Central Park Effect (Music Box has DVD rights), Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots, and Seeking Asian Female premiered on ESPN, HBO, VH1, and PBS respectively.
Booster is available for download on iTunes/Amazon. Daylight Savings did a DIY digital, Extracted was released on digital platforms courtesy of Go Digital and Anchor Bay acquired The Aggression Scale, but opted to go straight to DVD.
Factory 25 just put Pavilion into release. They released The Sheik and I at the end of 2012, but did not report grosses. It played in four theaters with only Seattle lasting more than a week.
3,2,1…Frankie Go Boom (Phase 4),The Tall Man (Image), $ellebrity (DIY), King Kelly (Go Digital) and The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (IFC Midnight) also opted not to release grosses and all were out of theaters in a week (except for King Kelly which lasted 2) with a tally of under $10,000 likely for each. A few of these are in Amazon Instant Video’s top 25 list though.
Funeral Kings (Freestyle) and Beauty Is Embarrassing (DIY) did not release grosses, but played in far more theaters. The latter likely finished comfortably over $25,000. Kings is in the top 100 list on iTunes.
Meanwhile, several films failed to break $10k. Notably, they are all non-competition narrative films. All except for The Last Fall had rotten ratings on rottentomatoes.com, many below 10%. Perhaps they fared much better on digital and VOD for which numbers are not available.
These films included Crazy Eyes, bought pre fest by Strand Releasing and grossed $6,106 on 5 screens in 3 weeks. Cinedigm’s In Our Nature, a family drama starring Zach Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery, and Gabrielle Union grossed $6,543 in 2 weeks on 1 screen. The critically panned Magnolia comedy Nature Calls grossed a paltry $646 on 2 screens in its entire run. The Last Fall, a life-after-football drama, only reported its opening weekend gross of $6,100 on 1 screen. Of these films, it came the closest to covering basic costs of a theatrical run.
Millenium Entertainment dumped comedy The Babymakers into the marketplace on 11 screens where even with the help of TUGG it only amassed $7,889. Anchor Bay’s generic horror film, Girls Against Boys, grossed $7,529 and went right to digital and VOD after 1 week in theaters. However, it is one of the top 100 horror films in DVD and Amazon instant video. They acquired the film for seven figures! Rec 3: Genesis, the third film in this successful horror series, was pre bought by Magnolia and lasted 4 weeks in theaters, but never had a PSA over $1k and bowed out at $9,600.
In the yet to be released category– IFC’s jury winning narrative film Gimme the Loot will be released March 22. Phase 4 is sitting pretty on the audience award winning Eden and See Girl Run. Tribeca has Somebody Up There Likes Me queued for VOD release on March 12. Magnolia just bought Big Star which screened as a work in progress at the fest. Small Apartments bought by Sony Pictures Worldwide is also waiting in the wings for release sometime in 2013. Factory 25 has Sun Don’t Shine geared up for April 29 release.
BONUS TIDBIT: KICKSTARTER
At least 20 films at SXSW this year raised funds on Kickstarter. That is slightly more than 15% of the films playing at the festival. 22 features from last year’s festival used Kickstarter with a number of those campaigns held post fest. I anticipate this year’s fest to ultimately have over 30 feature films using the crowdfunding platform. Obviously crowd-funding is a huge boost for indie filmmakers as it provides the luxury of not having to worry about paying back investors. And this list does not include films that have used other sites like Indiegogo…In no particular order…
Mr. Angel 12 O Clock Boys, Improvement Club, Continental, Linsanity, Swim Little Fish Swim, Big Joy (x2), Our Nixon, Good Ol’ Freda, I Am Divine, Good Night, Fall and Winter, Medora, Maidentrip, White Reindeer, Bayou Maharajah (x3), All the Labor, This Ain’t No Mouse Music!, The Punk Singer, Finding the Funk
From last year’s festival, the list of Kickstarter funded films include ½ of the competition titles: Gayby, Gimme The Loot, Booster, The Taiwan Oyster (x2), Bay of All Saints, Seeking Asian Female, Welcome to the Machine, and The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, and also Girl Walk/All Day, Brooklyn Castle (x2), Pavilion, The Last Fall, Blue Like Jazz, Fat Kid Rules The World, Beauty is Embarrassing, Code of the West, Tchoupitoulas, Leave Me Like You Found Me, La Camioneta, Electrick Children, Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroes (x2), Trash Dance (x2)
Bryan Glick March 8th, 2013
By Bryan Glick
Just because you didn’t premiere at Sundance or Cannes doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Though not living up to the sales quota of last year, there are two dozen premiere films from SXSW that have sold in the U.S. Here’s a wrap up of the film sales from SXSW.
Anchor Bay stuck with their niche and took North American rights to two midnight entries Girls Against Boys and The Aggression Scale, while Cinedigm (who recently acquired New Video) went for U.S. Rights to In Our Nature and the midnight audience award winner Citadel. Pre-fest buys include Crazy Eyes which went to Strand Releasing for the U.S. and Blue Like Jazz courtesy of Roadside Attractions. Blue Like Jazz was promptly released and has since grossed close to $600,000 theatrically in North America. Lionsgate is handling DVD, VOD, and TV through their output deal. Meanwhile Crazy Eyes just started its theatrical run on two screens pulling in a little under $5,000 in its first week.
Millennium Entertainment took the gross out comedy The Babymakers and yet another midnight film, The Tall Man was bought for the U.S. by Imagine. If you’re a midnight film at SXSW, odds are things are looking up for you. The same could be said for The Narrative Spotlight section where two thirds of the films have since been acquired including The Do-Deca Pentathlon taken by Red Flag Releasing and Fox Searchlight. Red Flag is handling the theatrical (The film grossed $10,000 in its opening weekend off of 8 screens) while Fox Searchlight will cover the other ancillary markets. The Narrative Spotlight Audience Award Winner, Fat Kid Rules the World was bought by Arc Entertainment for North America and Frankie Go Boom was the first film to reap the benefits of a partnership with Variance and Gravitas. It will be released in the U.S. on VOD Platforms in September via Gravitas followed by a theatrical in October courtesy of Variance.
And though they did not premiere at SXSW, both Dreams of a Life and Electrick Children had their U.S. premieres at the festival and have since been bought. U.S. rights to the documentary Dreams of a Life were acquired by Strand Releasing. Meanwhile, Electrick Children was snatched up for North America by Phase 4. Phase 4 also nabbed North American rights to See Girl Run.
Sony Pictures and Scott Rudin took remake rights to the crowd pleasing Brooklyn Castle while HBO acquired domestic TV rights to the doc The Central Park Effect. Meanwhile, after showing their festival prowess with their success of last year’s breakout Weekend (which was sold by The Film Collaborative’s Co President, Orly Ravid), Sundance Selects proved they were not to be outdone and got the jury prize award winner Gimme The Loot for North and Latin America. Fellow Narrative competition entry Gayby sold its U.S. rights to Wolfe Releasing, a low 6-figure deal. That deal was also negotiated by TFC’s Orly Ravid. And not to be outdone, competition entry, Starlet rounds out the Narrative Competition films to sell. It was acquired for North America by Music Box Films.
S2BN Films’ Big Easy Express became the first feature film to launch globally on iTunes. It will be released in a DVD/Blu-Ray Combo pack on July 24th by Alliance Entertainment followed by a more traditional VOD/Theatrical rollout later this year.
Other key deals include Oscilloscope Laboratories acquiring North American Rights to Tchoupitoulas, Snag Films going for the US Rights of Decoding Deepak, Image Entertainment’s One Vision Entertainment Label aiming for a touchdown with the North American rights to The Last Fall and Factory 25 partnering with Oscilloscope Labs for worldwide rights to Pavilion.
Final Thoughts: Thus far less than one third of the films to premiere at SXSW have been acquired for some form of domestic distribution. While that may seem bleak, it is a far better track record than from most festivals. In The U.S., SXSW is really second to only Sundance in getting your film out to the general public. The festival also takes a lot of music themed films and more experimental projects with each theme getting its own designated programming section at the festival. Those films were naturally far less likely to sell. The power players this year were certainly Anchor Bay and Cinedigm each taking multiple films that garnered press and/or have significant star power. Other companies with a strong presence and also securing multiple deals were Strand Releasing and Oscilloscope. Notably absent though is Mark Cuban’s own Magnolia Pictures and IFC (Though their sister division Sundance Selects made a prime acquisition). Magnolia did screen Marley at the festival, but the title was acquired out of Berlin, and IFC bought Sleepwalk With Me at its Sundance premiere.
While it is great that these films will be released, it also worth mentioning what is clearly missing from this post. There is almost no mention of how much these films were acquired for. The fact is films at SXSW don’t sell for what films at Sundance do and it is safe to assume that the majority of these deals were less than six figures with almost nothing or nothing at all getting a seven figure deal.
As for the sales agents, Ben Weiss of Paradigm and Josh Braun of Submarine were working overtime, with each negotiating multiple deals.
SUNDANCE UPDATE: Since the last Sundance post, there have been two more films acquired for distribution. Both films premiered in the World Documentary Competition. The Ambassador negotiated successfully with Drafthouse Films who acquired U.S. rights for the film which will premiere on VOD August 4th followed by a small theatrical starting August 29th. Also finding a home was A Law in These Parts which won the jury prize at this year’s festival. Cinema Guild will be releasing the film in theaters in the U.S. starting on November 14th. 75% of the films in the World Documentary Competition now have some form of distribution in the US.
A full list of SXSW Sales deals from SXSW is listed below. Box office grosses and release dates are current as of July 12th.
|Film||COMPANY||TERRITORIES||SALES COMPANY||Box Office/|
|See Girl Run||Phase 4||North America||Katharyn Howe and Visit Films|
|Starlet||Music Box Films||North America||Submarine|
|The Babymakers||Millenium||US||John Sloss and Kavanaugh-Jones||Theatrical Aug 3rd|
|DVD Sept 10th|
|Citadel||Cinedigm||US||XYZ Films and|
|UTA Independent Film Group.|
|The Aggression Scale||Anchor Bay||North America Blu-ray/dvd||Epic Pictures Group|
|Girls Against Boys||Anchor Bay||North America||Paradigm|
|Tchoupitoulas||Oscilloscope||North America||George Rush|
|Gimme The Loot||Sundance Selects||North and Latin America||Submarine Entertainment|
|The Tall Man||Image Entertainment||US||CAA and Loeb & Loeb||August 31st|
|Elektrick Children||Phase 4||North America||Katharyn Howe and Paradigm|
|Blue Like Jazz||Roadside||US||The Panda Fund||$595,018|
|Crazy Eyes||Strand||US||Irwin Rappaport||$4,305|
|In Our Nature||Cinedigm||US Rights||Preferred Content|
|Brooklyn Castle||Sony Pictures||Remake Rights||Cinetic Media|
|The Central Park Effect||HBO||US TV||Submarine Entertainment|
|Gayby||Wolfe||US||The Film Collaborative|
|The Do Decca Pentathlon||Fox Searchlight||North America||Submarine Entertainment||$10,000|
|Red Flag Releasing|
|Fat Kids Rules The World||Arc Entertainment||North America||Paradigm|
|Decoding Deepak||Snag Films||US||N/A||October|
|Big Easy Express||Alliance Entertainmnet||Worldwide DVD/VOD||Paradigm and S2BN||July 24th DVD/Blu-Ray|
|Big Easy Express||S2bn||Worldwide Itunes||Paradigm and S2BN||Available Now|
|The Last Fall||Image Entertainment||North America||N/A|
|Frankie Go Boom||Gravitas||US Rights||Reder & Feig and Elsa Ramo||VOD Sept|
|Dreams of a Life||Strand releasing||US Rights||eone films international||Aug 3rd|
Orly Ravid July 18th, 2012
Tags: A Law in These Parts, Alliance Entertainment, Anchor Bay, Arc Entertainment, Ben Weiss, Big Easy Express, Blue Like Jazz, Brooklyn Castle, Bryan Glick, Cannes, Cinedigm, Cinema Guild, Citadel, Crazy Eyes, Decoding Deepak, Drafthouse Films, Dreams of a Life, Electrick Children, Factory 25, Fat Kid Rules the World, Fox Searchlight, Frankie Go Boom, Gayby, Gimme The Loot, Girls Against Boys, Gravitas, HBO, Image Entertainment, Imagine, In Our Nature, Josh Braun, Lionsgate, Millenium Entertainment, Music Box Films, Orly Ravid, Oscilloscope, Phase 4, Red Flag Releasing, S2BN Films, Scott Rudin, Snag Films, Sony Pictures, Starlet, Strand Releasing, Submarine, Sundance, SXSW, Tchoupitoulas, The Aggression Scale, The Ambassador, The Babymakers, The Central Park Effect, The Do Deca Pentathlon, The Film Collaborative, The Last Fall, The Tall Man, Variance, VOD, Wolfe Releasing