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8/12 - Warners' films: Movies overboard!

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from: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/the_big_pi...rs-films-m.html

Warners' films: Movie overboard!

Aug 12 2008

Guy Ritchie's upcoming gangster film, "RocknRolla," is due to be released by Warner Bros. in early October. So why was the film's producer, the inimitable Joel Silver, showing the film to executives at Lionsgate and Sony Pictures? According to my colleague John Horn, Silver said he was screening it for other studios to get their advice about marketing and release plans for the picture. You can imagine how tickled Warners' marketing staff must've been, hearing the news that the studio's top producer was out soliciting ideas about how to sell his picture from rival studios.

A more likely scenario is that Silver is looking for a new home for the movie; a top executive at one of the studios said it was clear Silver was looking for a buyer for the film. People who've seen the film say it's not bad at all. But as Warners goes through the arduous process of absorbing two dozen or so New Line films into its distribution system, the studio simply has too many movies to release, so it's starting to pick out the weak calves from the herd.

Sources say Warners has also been shopping around "Slumdog Millionaire," a Danny Boyle-directed drama about a kid from the slums of Mumbai who has an amazing run on an Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." The film, whose U.S. rights were acquired for $5 million by Warner Independent Pictures, is good enough to be accepted at this fall's Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals. But Warners is unsure of its commercial prospects. The film, originally slated for release Nov. 7, has now quietly been bumped to next year. Warners is also open to offers on a third film, "Pride and Glory," an Edward Norton and Colin Farrell-starring drama about NYPD officers made by New Line that was initially slated for release by New Line this spring but bumped from the schedule.

What's going on here? I went to Warners chief Alan Horn for some answers:

"RocknRolla" was financed by Silver's Dark Castle Entertainment, which has delivered a series of low-budget horror films to Warners, including "The Reaping" and "House of Wax." Silver's deal entitles his films to a 800-screen wide release, but Warners ultimately decides how much of a marketing spend it's willing to risk on the film. In the past, when Warners had concerns about a film's commercial prospects, it has tried a limited three-city release, supported with TV advertising, to gauge a film's reception in the marketplace. The results are rarely encouraging, which Silver knows all too well; Warners did a similar release in 2005 with the Shane Black-directed "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," a Silver-produced comedy thriller that got good reviews but never won a broader national release. It's no wonder a savvy producer like Silver would be approaching a studio like Lionsgate, which makes its living releasing edgy films like "RocknRolla."

Horn was honest about his assessment of the film. "I think it's a well-made picture, but while it's funny in spots, it's very English," he said. "I don't think it's broadly commercial. It feels like a film that deserves a spirited release, but not a wide one. Joel has an 800-screen deal, which we'll honor, but we might not be willing to spend the marketing money he wants us to."

Horn shrugged. "I guess I'm in a shocking state of equanimity," he said. "The filmmakers have every right to do what they think is best in support of their movies. But we have the right to do what's best for Warner Bros. Sometimes the pursuit of those interests results in a disagreement. For now, we're preparing to release the film in October, but I don't see it starting out on 800 screens. If Joel is thinking there is someone out there willing to spend twice as much money as we're willing to, I'm sure he will pursue that."

Horn acknowledged that the studio is also open to offers on Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire," but he said the studio isn't having a fire sale. "We're not going to give it away. If we can't find a buyer, then we'll put it out in a few markets--perhaps Chicago, New York and Toronto --and see if it works. I'm a big believer in letting the audience decide what it thinks. I like the movie. I just don't know how big the audience is for it."

Warners' overriding issue is that it simply is overloaded with pictures. As distribution chief Dan Fellman put it: "We're distributing more movies from September to the end of the year than most studios do in an entire year." Horn is trying to find the right number of pictures that the studio can handle without putting an unacceptable burden on its marketing and distribution staff. With New Line now slated to make six-or-so films a year, Warners will be cutting back on its releases so it would release no more than 25 or 26 films in a calendar year. It's a delicate balancing act, especially for a studio that is better built to release "Dark Knight" and "Harry Potter"-style blockbusters than small dramas or quirky comedies.

"I think having a new movie coming out every two weeks is plenty," Horn said. "Any more films than that and we're putting too big a strain on the system. It's just too crowded in the marketplace these days. I'd like for us to find a way to release movies like 'Slumdog Millionaire,' but we keep coming back to the same question--can we really do it justice?"

Warners is willing to try to find a happier home for some of its smaller-scale films. But with so many specialty divisions going out of business or in disarray, the list of happy homes is few and far between. A lot of good little movies are going to be packed off to the orphanage.

read the full article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/the_big_pi...rs-films-m.html

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Thanks Barb. I must say this is a very interesting article. Quite surprising too.

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Oh wow. Well I hope whatever happens it works out in the film's favor. I have heard of a lot of instances of this happening to musicians. They may be signed to a label that has so many artists out there and certain artists that they feel can achieve commercial success that they leave some very talented and deserving musicians out in the cold. I hope this is not the case with RNR and that the release date does not get pushed back.

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All I can say is this better not end up like Shattered did. But I'm waiting to see what happens. One article isn't enough to make me worry too much.

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I can't think about this now.

I'll think about it tomorrow...at Tara.

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The way I read this, RnR will have very limited release even when released widely. Kinda like Game of Their Lives and Beowulf, Dear Frankie even. Seems to me there will be many areas that never see this film.

Did anyone else read this differently?

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Hey Dawn, I read it the same way. It does worry me some, this movie has the potential to be a great success if marketed correctly!!!

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Oh brother! Sometimes I think there's more drama and theatrics behind the making and distribution of a film, than what we see on screen.

This sucks. (I think)

Swannie

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The "Very English" bit bothers me...Why should that be a problem for US audiences?...This is the melting pot of the world?..So..it's very English...Let's see I know of a blockbuster movie that is "Very English" and starrs mainly a British cast..

"Harry Potter"...and it's done very well here in the US...hummmmmm

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Personally, I am getting sick of the so-called blockbusters. I've grown bored with huge wide release action and comic book generated films... but I guess that's all the studios will bank on any more. Our loss, I'm afraid.

Swannie

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All I can say is this better not end up like Shattered did. But I'm waiting to see what happens. One article isn't enough to make me worry too much.

I'm with you on that because Shattered was made here in Vancouver and if I wasn't a Gerry fan I would have never even heard of the film! But let's keep in mind that making movies is a business before anything else and they are looking for that "cash cow" in every movie they make...Unfortunately they miss the little Gems like Dear Frankie along the way....

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This is pessing me off to the nth degree!

I don't care who distributes the dern thing, I just want it distributed!!! I'll travel to see it - but I gotta know where to go!!

Time to gird up our loins and prepare for the Distribution Fight...

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Not happy about this....not happy at all!

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The "Very English" bit bothers me...Why should that be a problem for US audiences?...This is the melting pot of the world?..So..it's very English...Let's see I know of a blockbuster movie that is "Very English" and starrs mainly a British cast..

"Harry Potter"...and it's done very well here in the US...hummmmmm

Atonement seems to ring a bell, too... And what's that other one? James something or other... starts with a B. Bond, I think...

ETS: The difference between RnR and Shattered is that those that have seen it say it's a good film and there IS some buzz. Shattered was dead in the water before it even made it to the can.

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The "Very English" bit bothers me...Why should that be a problem for US audiences?...This is the melting pot of the world?..So..it's very English...Let's see I know of a blockbuster movie that is "Very English" and starrs mainly a British cast..

"Harry Potter"...and it's done very well here in the US...hummmmmm

Atonement seems to ring a bell, too... And what's that other one? James something or other... starts with a B. Bond, I think...

The same was said about "Lock, Stock..." and "Snatch" as well. A ridiculous statement all around when you consider that PBS and various cable channels (in fact there was an article in Variety on line today about IFC) keep snapping up the American television rights to BBC comedies as fast as they can churn them out. (I'm sure they're already thinking about the dvd and cable tv market segments.)

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[I was at Lincoln Square Cinemas at Bellevue Washington last week and they had the RocknRolla Poster up saying it was coming soon. I thought great! They are advertising two months in advance. This is going to be big. Now I read it might have a limited release. This cinema generally shows the blockbusters but it does also sometimes show films like Atonement. Well I hope it gets a wide release.

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I got a google alert with this article and read it and it made me sick. The first thing that popped in my head was "Shattered".

It does sound like it's not going to be a wide release. I was really looking forward to this movie b/c it looks like my type of humor. I will be really disappointed if it doesn't get the promotion and marketing that it deserves.

The other thing that popped in my head was that Gerry may not do alot of interviews on all the talk shows if this doesn't get heavily marketed. I was really looking forward to that......

Guess we'll just have to wait and see....

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GAWD I was dreading this! I think a lot of it is because of the so called blockbusters! Darknight and Harry Potter and the next blockbuster is going to be The Watchmen! Thats where I still think Gerry should have had a role in! These big studios want big blockbuster movie where the big bucks are made! Pure and simple and I don't like it much either.... But I hate to say this but I was afraid of this happening. After seeing some of the response though I breathed a sigh of relief thinking I was all wrong! I guess all we can do is wait and see...I have a feeling if this does happen I won't be getting to see it on the big screen...not in this one horse town! I am so Pessed right now!

:lalala: Frannie

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Word of mouth can be a very powerful tool and fingers crossed it does good business in the UK then hopefully that will travel well over the pond. Just think all the little gems of the past year or so like Juno that was probably felt to be some little indie flick on limited release but because of word of mouth this film became a very big critical and commercial success.

The fact the movie poster in the US is totally different to the UK in that they have Gerry front and centre we know who they are hoping to promote it to big time.

I am not saying us gerry fans can make the difference alone to making his films a success but even the media from Comic-Con were surprised at how big a following he has.

They need to get Gerry back on the chat show circuit big time as I have a big feeling if this does not get the publicity then the supposed wide release on 31 Oct will do no good as the following week it will be slaughtered by Bond. Maybe Warner Bros are facing that reality and know that because of Guy's track record for his last 2 films it is maybe just too much of a gamble to put alot of money into its PR.

At least Joel Silver has faith in the film. I guess Alan Horn maybe does not think the fantastic combination of talent in this film is enough. I did read somewhere before they were maybe giving it a wide release a few weeks earlier than planned - this would be a better idea when there is not the big blockbuster competition and it gives the film a few weeks to gather steam.

With it being released in the UK on 5 Sep and then premiered in Toronto during the following week the buzz could be huge and could give them a change of heart - Toronto Film Festival seems to be the first place for all potential Oscar buzz to start.

Moira

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Guest Nay

This really leaves a sour taste in my mouth ... spit!

Yes, politics and money may talk in the long run but I think it strange that whilst, Guy Ritchie seems to have been courted to make another 'English' character movie in Sherlock Holmes, he is seemingly slapped in the face as a professional in this instance.

Most odd - but then what is simple and straight-forward and honest in the world of Hollywood movers and shakers?

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Thanks Barb, where they have a release date, I'm sure they'll find someone, if this movie is half as good as people say it is then they shouldn't have a problem, it can be Guy Ritchies "comeback" film, you all know that Hollywood loves a comeback and from the potential he had to the last movie he made before RocknRolla, that's exactly how they are going to see it...now let's hope they don't screw it up.

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Moira wrote:

Just think all the little gems of the past year or so like Juno that was probably felt to be some little indie flick on limited release but because of word of mouth this film became a very big critical and commercial success.

:hmm:Ah yes "Juno" with Helen Page...but remember it wasn't made in (Holywood) Hollywood therefore not blessed and almost swept under the business carpet...I find the "click" in Hollywood is so strong that it would take an army of 300 with King Leo and his skeleton crew to crack it! Why is it that when a stupid movie made in Hollywood gets it's stars on all the talk shows day in and out while another one say like "Nim's Island" or "Shattered" didn't get the same recognition? Oprah and Ellen D and the View just ignored these little Gems...Geez even Leno and Conan didn't have any actors from them on their shows! It seems if a movie gets the "nod" from any of these shows people line up to get in to see them...no attention from them on it and the movie starts growing cob webs...If you ask me it stinks to high heaven and the movie Industry is becoming too powerful for their own good....and ours. It feels like they are manipulating the Producers and Directors every move by wether it should be allowed to fly or not? Money is the route of all evil and they want to make SURE that they get their pockets full before anyone wins awards for a job well done... :tantrum: Sorry for the rant..sigh!

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Remember what happened to 'Dear Frankie' which never got it's due time out there. I hope that doesn't happen to 'Rocknrolla'. I am looking forward to a Guy Richie film. It has a style I've not ever seen. I haven't seen his others and different can be so refreshing. The article did say basically the masses do get heard. We need to get the word out. Maybe it will get picked up by another quickly. 800 isn't enough. I'm hoping for the best.

Thanks for the info.

Sally

Edited by cybrsal

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