Sundance narrative films are the ones that get the bulk of the media attention; their star power or discovery or indie cred frequently send some of these gems into financial success. But last year’s majority resulted in distributors overpaying for titles, titles going for next to nothing, or even failing to secure distribution. Frequently, the filmmakers and/or the distributors were in the red.
For all the talk of the slower fest this year, there are now 10 films that have secured seven figure deals. Last year’s fest had 14 or 15 (one has conflicting dollar amounts in reports). While this year’s deals are nowhere near the $9.75 Mil paid for The Way Way Back, it does suggest a healthier marketplace with sane sales prices. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how last year’s slate performed. Over 80% secured domestic distribution.
AWARDS POWER FOR US DRAMATIC
Last year’s US Dramatic award winners were also the top indie box office performers.
The highest grossing competition film, Fruitvale Station, won the Audience and Grand Jury awards. Though it failed to get an Oscar nomination, TWC managed a healthy $16 Mil + theatrically. That is notably better than the previous year’s jury winner Beasts of the Southern Wild.
The second highest grossing film from the US Dramatic section was The Spectacular Now. A24 which has tailored itself to films for younger demos (VERY VERY BOLD MOVE given how hard it can be to reach the under 25 audience for indies). The $1.5 Mil acquisition grossed $6.85 Mil theatrically.
Roadside Attractions snagged the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award Winner In A World, which surprised many with a gross of just under $3 Mil. Afternoon Delight, which won last year’s Directing Award, made $174k with Film Arcade doing the theatrical and Cinedigm handling digital. Shane Carruth’s self-distributed Upstream Color won a special jury prize for sound. The film is the highest grossing DIY release from last year’s festival with a total of $444k and a very healthy iTunes total, however, it is likely that Gravitas Ventures pushed Sound City into the ultimate #1 spot. Never under-estimate the power of a music doc. Mother of George and Ain’t them Bodies Saint’s shared the cinematography prize. Mother Of George was Oscilloscope’s highest grossing release last year at over $157k and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints made $371K under the direction of IFC. That total is arguably a disappointment with all of the hype surrounding the film, stellar critical praise and the seven figure acquisition price.
In contrast, the films that did not win awards had very mixed results. Many of these films (award winners included) had $1-8 Million production budgets and, in fact, most failed to recoup from their initial distribution deals. Perhaps their investors will see money back eventually.
The non-award-winners include C.O.G. and Concussion. Both finished with around $50k theatrically. Focus World/Screen Media can’t be happy with the performance of C.O.G., the first David Sedaris short story turned into a film. Concussion was day and date release and Radius TWC has said the film was a top performer on digital platforms. Without publicly available data, we have to take their word for it. Meanwhile, Kill Your Darlings just barely passed the $1 Mil mark for SPC, who paid around $2 Mil for the film. They acquired a number of other territories and the film will obviously be stronger on digital platforms. It is the second year in a row that SPC acquired a film featuring a younger cast, then held onto it to screen 8 months later at Toronto International Film Festival and failed to earn back ½ of their acquisitions cost in theatrical release. The strategy of waiting to launch out of TIFF and going for the younger American audience clearly isn’t working for them and should be rethought. I personally think it’s a mix of both. In this day and age, I can think of very few reasons where waiting 8 months between festivals makes any sense.
Also underperforming to the acquisitions price was SPC’s Austenland. It has grossed $2.15 Mil in the US and is the highest grossing non award winning US Dramatic film. However SPC paid $4.5 Mil in partnership with SPWA. The additional territories and better digital viewing could possibly pull the film to break even, still well below what one wants from that kind of high profile buy.
Far on the other side of the spectrum are the D.O.A.’s The Lifeguard and Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes. The former released by Screen Media and the latter by Tribeca Film and Well Go USA. In both cases, bad reviews clearly harmed these films which both had semi-marketable casts. Even with solid digital revenue, both films, which were likely acquired for under six figures, can be called flops. The same can be said for Magnolia’s Touchy Feely which managed $36k, not even 1/15th of Lynn Shelton’s Humpday. The 35% enthusiasm rating on Rotten Tomatoes indicates how the film was received.
CBS Films acquired Kings of Summer (originally called Toy’s Attic). Though they stated in their original acquisitions announcement that the film would open wide, it never did, so one has to assume they tried to cut their losses and the $1.315 Mil it made theatrical was nowhere near what they were anticipating. The film has much of the same demo as The Spectacular Now, but with none of the star power or awards profile attention.
WORLD DRAMATIC FAILURE
75% of the World Dramatic slate lacks domestic distribution as of this post. The other three films include one yet to be released (despite it winning an Award at Sundance and being UK’s Oscar submission (Metro Manila), one that failed to crack $15k (Il Futuro) and one modest performing success. Crystal Fairy is the only world dramatic film to have any kind of traction in the US. The Day one selection made $192k theatrically in the care of IFC.
Unlike when Sleepwalk With Me became a hit for IFC, 2013’s NEXT crop of films were largely modest to middling performers. A Teacher failed to crack $10k in the hands of Oscilloscope, Pit Stop (which TFC handled for festival distribution) went to DVD/Digital with Wolfe, Milkshake and Newlyweeds barely made a whimper with Phase 4. Audience Award Winner, This is Martin Bonner couldn’t pass $15k and Strand Releasing’s I Used to be Darker stopped short of $25k. Blue Caprice fell just short of $100k for IFC/Sudance Selects. At one point, it was in 36 theaters. For a film that received such a nice marketing push, it is safe to call it an underperformer at the box office, even more so with its low seven figure acquisitions price which didn’t finalize until March after the festival.
I have already written about Escape From Tomorrow and it’s self financed theatrical/digital performance with Producer’s Distribution Agency. The film has failed to make back its budget through the combined total, and that doesn’t factor in any P&A spent or revenue splits. The one real bright spot is Computer Chess. Kino Lorber had one of its best theatrical runs for a narrative film, solid festival exposure and wisely kept the film in the press and turned down an offer from TIFF that would have made them take a break. The film quietly passed the $100k mark which, given its no-name cast, low fi production values, and vintage style, is quite an accomplishment.
While genre films consistently perform better on VOD/Digital, the theatrical realities of last year’s midnight slate is nothing short of a total flop. The Rambler (Anchor Bay), Hell Baby (Millennium), Ass Backwards (Gravitas Ventures), In Fear (Anchor Bay), Magic Magic (Sony Pictures Worldwide) wound up going direct to DVD/Digital, grossing under $10k theatrically, or not reporting box office totals at all. V/H/S 2 barely passed $21k in the hands of Magnolia, a far cry from how it’s predecessor did. Again these films often performed quite well digitally, but for the festival that launched the Saw franchise, none of the entries really made a dent.
We Are What We Are (EOne) is the only Midnight film to pass $50k. Kink, which The Film Collaborative is handling for festivals, was just acquired by MPI Media. Virtually Heroes has yet to make a deal.
Sweetwater, Big Sur, and Charlie Countryman all failed to make a dent at the box office and were either DIY or their distributor did not report the acquisitions price. Each had some form of star power and must be huge disappointments for their financiers. The Look of Love also failed to register theatrically for IFC. The film was Day/Date and if any company can make money back on the digital it would be them. But it’s far from what one wants to see for a seven figure acquisition.
PREMIERE BIG DEALS
Don Jon was bought for $4 Mil by Relativity Media with a $25 Mil P&A. The film has failed to gross $25 Mil at the box office though it is the highest grossing film from last year’s fest. Likely it will barely break even. The Way Way Back was the highest selling direct acquisition at the fest, bought for an estimated $9.75 mil for North American rights and several other territories, but the P&A is unknown. The film exceeded $21 Mil making it ultimately a modest performer for Fox Searchlight though it far outshined previous acquisitions, Stoker and The East, which they acquired pre-fest and neither of which managed over $2.5 Mil.
SPC snagged Before Midnight and the film is the highest grossing of the trilogy with slightly over $8 Mil. It also was just nominated for an Oscar. Closing night film jOBS, on the other hand, only saw a 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, has a Razzie Award nod and their self financed release with Open Road failed to recoup their costs. Worldwide, the film has grossed almost $36 mil likely on the strength of the Ashton Kutcher name.
We’re anxious to see how this year’s crop performs in release. Already, one World Documentary film, Sepideh Reaching for the Stars, has launched simultaneously with its US premiere on iTunes in the US and Canada, which is a first.
Bryan Glick January 24th, 2014
Tags: A Teacher, A24, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Anchor Bay, Ass Backwards, Austenland, Before Midnight, Big Sur, Blue Caprice, C.O.G. Concussion, CBS Films, Charlie Countryman, Cinedigm, Computer Chess, Crystal Fairy, Don Jon, Emanuel and the Fishes, EOne, Escape from Tomorrow, Fox Searchlight, Fruitvale Station, Gravitas Ventures, Hell Baby, I Used to be Darker, IFC Films, Il Futuro, In A World, In Fear, jOBS, Kill Your Darlings, Kings of Summer, Kink, Kino Lorber, Magic, Magnolia, Metro Manila, Milkshake, Millennium, Mother of George, MPI Media, Newlyweeds, NEXT, Open Road, Oscilloscope, Pit Stop, Producer's Distribution Agency, Radius TWC, Relativity Media, Roadside Attractions, sales prices, Sepideh Reaching for the Stars, Sony Picture Classics, Sound City, Sundance narrative films, Sweetwater, The Lifeguard, The Look of Love, The Rambler, The Spectacular Now, The Way, This is Martin Bonner, Touchy Feely, Tribeca Film, Upstream Color, V/H/S 2, Virtually Heroes, Way Back, We are what we are, Well Go
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
We all struggle with this, filmmakers, distributors alike. I remember giving a presentation to distributors about digital distribution and theatrical came up. I talked about the weirdness of showing a film 5 or 6 times a day to an almost always-empty house save a couple showings. This makes no sense for most films. When I released Baise Moi in 2000, we broke the boxoffice records at the time, and the “raincoat crowd” did show up at the oddest morning hours, but that is the exception, not the rule. Not every film has an 8-minute rape scene that just must be seen by post-punk-feminists and pornography-lovers alike. It’s an odd set-up for smaller films and it’s not the only means to the end we are looking for.
Recently, The Film Collaborative released Eyes Wide Open in NYC, LA, Palm Beach and Palm Springs. We have a little over $10,000 (all in it will be about $12,000 tops). We have made our money back and the great reviews and extra marketing / visibility will drive ancillary sales but we also did not invest or risk too much as you can see. That is a great formula (one that small, disciplined and seasoned distributors such as First Run Features, Strand, Zeitgeist, employ) but it is not viable for all films. First of all we have an “A” list festival film (Cannes & TIFF & LAFF) and second it caters to two or three niches (gay and Jewish/Israeli) though one can argue that the niches also slightly cancel each other out to some extent, the film did well so obviously the campaign worked.
But there are many films for which that strategy would not work. Either theaters could not be booked, or reviews would not always be great, and / or the film would simply not galvanize a theatrical audience. Plus, once you start adding up 4-Wall fees, the bottom line leans more likely to be shades of red. The Quad Cinema sent an E-blast promoting its 4-Wall program. It was a good sales pitch and I am not going into it all here, but the take home is that you’re more likely to get a broader theatrical, and/or a distribution deal, and/or picked up by Netflix and other digital platforms if you open theatrically in New York. I would argue that is true to some extent but also VERY MUCH dependent on the FILM itself and there should still be a cost-analysis and overall strategy consideration before one pays the Quad for their services and hopes for the best. Here is a link to the info and we are happy to email the blast to any who request it www.quadcinema4wall.com . It should also be noted that generally speaking, The New York Times does not consider your film among “All the News That is Fit to Print” unless it’s opening wider than just New York.
So how to decide? Companies such as Oscilloscope are all about theatrical, but they pick their films carefully and my guess is Adam Yauch can afford to lose money too if it comes to that. Home Video companies such as New Video, and Phase4 are doing some theatrical, but on an as-needed basis and yes, to service the ancillary rights, but that’s a very experienced analysis on their part. When we posted on Twitter about the Cable Operators warning they will start requiring a ten (10) city theatrical, all at once, believe me, if everyone blindly follows suit, the bar will get raised even higher right until we all go broke. The point is to mitigate the glut and distinguish films in the marketplace not get us all to be lemmings and empty our bank accounts. There is math to be done and I know it’s hard without all the back-end numbers at your disposal, but they are coming. We will publish case studies of all our films and we encourage you to get down to the detailed back-end numbers analysis before spending more on the front end and often gratuitously.
We have experienced and heard about the impact a filmmaker can have in his or her city when working the film and then really impacting the gross and that is inspiring, but usually not long-lasting because it takes a lot to get people to pay to see your film in a theater when there are so many other films and so many more marketing dollars behind them. And what’s in it for you? The only reviews that matter are the big ones and we all know what they are… and remember what we said above about The New York Times.
The general perception of indie film releases is interesting. Most don’t take into account the money that is spent to get the “gross”. More of the time the distributor (or whomever booked the film) gets less than half of the box office revenues. Sometimes as little as 25% – 30% though of course sometimes more. And there are the expenses. The Kids Are Alright may not even be in the black right now, but you’d never know that reading certain coverage. I love Exit Through A Gift Shop and actually flagged that release as a stellar release and then I learned that the marketing spend was actually a lot more than I realized such that the spend may be up to a million dollars. I don’t actually know, and not sure anyone will tell me. I do know that the bottom line for many of The Weinstein releases was reported to be in the red because of spending. If you have a film that can sell a lot of units and especially in an evergreen manner, and if you can trigger a great TV sale and if you have foreign sales legs, then there’s a real upside. If you don’t, then be clear what you’re goals are. Sometimes it’s just a career move and that makes sense. Canadian filmmakers need a theatrical release to get their next projects funded (say that like this: ‘pro-jects’). Sometimes people just want the awards qualification and that’s another ballgame.
We have written some of our TFC Distribution Tid Bits about Hybrid Theatrical and Marketing options, but here is a bit more on the topic:
If creating buzz is what you want, you don’t need a traditional theatrical and you definitely don’t need to overpay for the privilege.
Some OPTIONS – try HYBRID THEATRICAL – do FILM FESTIVAL, CREATE EVENTS, HOLD A SCREENING WITH ORGANIZATIONS, show in MUSEUMS (in some cases), other ALTERNATIVE VENUES depending on the film, and also there are all sorts of ways to book a few days here and a few days there at theaters (we cover that below). Theaters are and will continue to do this more and more. AMCi announced their intentions and they are still in the marinating phase, but we know you’ll all be ready when they are.
We’re interested in these companies and services:
- Cinedigm: They have a program in the works that is meant to be similar to ScreenVision and Fathom (which is no longer handling indie films generally speaking, as far as we know) but aimed at independent cinema, and working with all the big theatre chains (Regal, AMC, Cinemark). I asked them to write a few words for me about themselves and their plans: Cinedigm Entertainment, a theatrical distributor, has built several “channels” of content for movie theatres. This is niche content that plays at what is traditionally slower times for the theatres. Examples are; Kidtoons a monthly matinee program; Live 3D sports, like the World Cup and NCAA Final Four basketball; and 3D and 2D concert films with artists from Dave Mathews to Beyonce. For each “channel,” the most appropriate theatres are chosen and theatres sign on to play the content as a series, thereby creating the expectation in the marketplace for the next installment. In the company’s newest “channel,” it looks to apply the concept to indie-films which will provide filmmakers with the theatrical element for distribution.
- Emerging Pictures: Owned by Ira Deutchman (now also a Film Prof. at Columbia University). I spoke with Joshua Green, whom I have known for a while and booked with, though no real revenues were made in the past, their latest network of theatres sounds potent. They connect up to 75 theatres and they do very well with Opera, Ballet and Shakespeare, but also indie films. They work with all the usual indie film distributors either taking on 2nd run of films in major markets or handing the first run in secondary markets. On screen now for example is Mother & Child, My Name is Love, and Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. 30% of the Gross is paid to the distributor or filmmaker. They charge usually a 1-time encoding fee to get the files needed for the theatres. The fee is $1,000. If that’s an issue that can sometimes in advance to make sure the bookings will happen to make the fee worthwhile. They create a Hi Rez file 720p VC1 file which is a professional HD version of MS Windows. They work with the Laemmle theatres in LA and Sympany Space in NY and lots of others across the country. What does well on the Art House circuit will do well with them I was told. Makes sense.
- Variance Films: Dylan Marchetti (former exec at Imaginasian and Think Film) is a firm believer in Theatrical and it’s his business. He may promote its necessities a bit more than I will and its not his money to spend and he was honest about the range of success (meaning not all films work theatrically and sometimes money is lost, and we know of at least one example, but it happens). We spoke for the first time and I was comforted by his grassroots approach (they do that work themselves) and his commitment to alternative low cost venues: event screenings, niche-specific / lifestyle specific venues, as well as traditional theatres (all the usual chains and small theatres etc). He noted that generally speaking, they do not charge more than $50,000 and that they get paid via back-end fees only. He said a release in NY and LA for $20,000 can be done. Variance is not a believer in print advertising; they have to believe in the film to take it on; and Dylan said that there is no correlation between P&A spending and a film’s success. Amen. They don’t do PR but rather refer out to outside agencies, as does The Film Collaborative. NB: Dylan Marchetti of Variance makes a correction to this. “Fees vary wildly depending on the film and release”. So sometimes they can do backend tied fees only, but not always.
The Film Collaborative is theatrically releasing UNDERTOW (which won the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance). Stay tuned.
Orly Ravid July 28th, 2010
Tags: 4 Wall, Adam Yauch, Alternative venues, AMCi, Cannes, Cinedigm, Dylan Marchetti, Emerging Pictures, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Eyes Wide Open, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hybrid theatrical, Ira Deutchman, Joshua Green, Laemmle, LAFF, marketing strategy, Mother and Child, My Name is Love, Netflix, New Video, New York, Oscilloscope, Phase4, Quad Cinema, Sympany Space, The Film Collaborative, The Kids are Alright, The Weinsteins, theaters, Theatrical, TIFF, Undertow, Variance Films, VOD
Instead of spending tons of money trying to inspire boxoffice success or buying it, create “events” around screenings….have live performances, Q&A’s, invite big groups of people to bring their members, etc. Don’t be passive….fill that theater with everyone you know and you just might convince other people that there is a built-in audience for your film.
This does not have to happen via the traditional theatrical model though. That can be a small part of the release to get reviews, but the rest can be a sort of EVENT THEATRICAL or HYBRID THEATRICAL release and you can sell DVDs at the screenings and build your community list and dialog too. Companies such as Fathom, Screenvision, Cinedigm offer alternative theatrical bookings and event screening options in traditional theatrical chains such as AMC, Cinemark, and Regal. (Stay tuned for our next blog on this topic and we’ll cover services such as Emerging Pictures too).
Selling DVDs at festivals and event screenings is a key revenue stream and should not be overlooked.
Orly Ravid July 27th, 2010
Tags: AMC, Cinedigm, Cinemark, Emerging Pictures, Event Theatrical, Fathom, Hybrid theatrical, independent film, Regal, Screenvision, The Film Collaborative, theatrical distribution, theatrical release
Fathom is a great known service doing event screenings in key theater chains across the country. Their key chains are: Regal, AMC, Cinemark, and some Loews and Pacific Theatres too but they’re fewer in number.
Films such as I.O.U.U.S.A have made great money and had a great release with Fathom. Other services such as Cinedigm and Screenvision are also offering similar programs at the same top chains. AMCi announced it’s reserving screens for indie films too, but details have not been released on this program yet. Stay tuned.
Orly Ravid July 22nd, 2010