I include this portion of David Hayes article in today's Variety to emphasize the difficult environment indy film financiers and distributors find themselves in. Last year's Cinderella Coach (Hamlet 2) went for $10 million. However it promptly turned back into a pumpkin over the summer when it only grossed $5M. When you consider the marketing that went into the film's wide release, plus the $10M to buy it and the theater owners take, that's a loss of around $20 million, Ouch! Folks, that's real money, not the Monopoly stuff. If you're the type of person who slams the studios for being uncreative or short sighted, remember this financial loss before doing it again. Remember this is "Show Business," not "Show Art." And please think about the financiers' concerns when choosing what to write or which of your scripts to send to an agent, manager or producer. It's tough out there.
Industry dressing down for Sundance
Economy brings a more subdued festivalSundance, the first major fest to take place in the midst of the brutal economic downturn, is likely to be a more subdued affair.
There will still be the usual distribs scouting pics and sellers offering a full range of fare, but the overall noise level at the fest, running Jan. 15-25, is expected to be turned down a bit.
Organizers are marking the fest's 25th anniversary with special "storytelling"-themed events and Web content. Steven Soderbergh will sit on a panel seeking to answer the question "What next?"
That question has haunted the indie and specialty arenas of late. Despite the fall emergence of breakouts like "Slumdog Millionaire," "Milk" and "Doubt" at the mini-majors, the hangover from 2008 has lingered as vets absorb the disappearance of Warner Independent and Picturehouse and a big pullback by Paramount Vantage just three years after its euphoric "Hustle and Flow" Sundance moment. Add the breakdown of ThinkFilm, Bob Yari's release arm and other pure indies and the ground has shifted significantly underfoot.
Funding for pics is available, but the capital-intensive distribution and marketing sectors have been in dire straits of late.
"It just feels a lot tougher this year because so much is changing," said Bob Berney, who headed Picturehouse before it was unplugged last year by Time Warner. "Even so, I'm looking forward to Sundance just for the chance to see movies because it's often been a place of renewal."
The 10-day fest will see an array of preems, some for pics that are already spoken for, some not. For many trekking to the Wasatch Mountains, memories of last year's cross-currents remain fresh -- success stories like "Frozen River" and "Man on Wire" mixed with misfires like "What Just Happened?" and "Hamlet 2." Focus bought the latter for a record $10 million in an all-night bidding war, only to see it gross barely half that in wide summer release........
(photo from last year's Sundance)