Compiled by: FilmBudget.com – the global leader in worldwide film budget and schedule production services for the motion picture industry; by Jack Binder.
Another Successful Year
This past week, the 34th American Film Market brought buyers, exhibitors, producers, studio executives, lawyers, and many others from all over the world to the beautiful city of Santa Monica. Attendance was only slightly up this year, but over two-thousand projects were on display; inking sales all over the globe.
Unsurprisingly, China made its largest impression yet, sending more companies than ever (as well as money) to collaborate with Hollywood. The Hollywood Reporter describes it as,” If there is an overriding theme to this year’s American Film Market, it’s China’s arrival as a global film superpower.”
November 7th marked “Hong Kong Day,” a push to promote co-producing with Hong-Kong. The event was a collaboration between AFM and Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which arranged an opening ceremony, workshops, and a cocktail reception all focused on co-producing in the iconic film city of Hong-Kong.
Aside from the various venues and events, the real epicenter of deal making could be found at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Brian Watt of scpr.org explains, “Around 8,000 participants registered for this year’s American Film Market, but none of them actually sleep at the Loews Santa Monica. The hotel’s beds are removed and its rooms become offices for indie production [international sales] companies, looking to license and sell their upcoming films.” Many of these meetings went beyond the projects, alluding to the industry as a whole, particularly in California. As tax credit incentives in other states draw thousands of productions, many big names, such as Dean Devlin of Electric Entertainment, wish to expand California’s production tax credits to keep projects in Los Angeles.
The Power of Star Power
As major tent-pole films pitch alongside indie-film projects, one thing remains consistent between the two worlds, big names mean big interest. Unfortunately for projects with a small, indie film budget, attaching big names isn’t always easy. That may explain why higher profile films, such as Lionsgate’s “Mortdecai” starring Johnny Depp, created the most buzz.
After a disappointing box-office run of the $250 Million budgeted The Lone Ranger, Mr. Depp is rearing a comeback, and it looks like Mortdecai might just be the project. Exhibitors of the movie created much hype and interest by screening footage introducing Depp’s character, an art dealer named Charles Mortdecai. The reaction was highly positive.
Other high-profile projects included Lionsgate’s re-make of 1991 Point Break, which became the biggest deal of the market at $100 million. The original action movie, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, grossed over $83 million internationally on a film budget of $24 million. The tremendous success of the original may be the reason it was the Market’s largest project, despite there being no names attached. Warner Bros. will release it domestically.
Keanu Reeves may not be part of the surf-thriller, but he’s busy elsewhere. Passengers, a romance sci-fi, drew much attention at the market. The movie was exhibited by the Weinstein Company, which had picked up its rights at Cannes. Similar to Gravity, the film will be driven by its two leads (Reeves and Rachel McAdams) and set in space. Carly Meyberry of Studio System News explained that, “The project is likely to benefit from the stellar success of Warner Bros. recent techno-thriller.”
That’s not to say projects with a lower profile (and lower movie budgets) didn’t draw any attention. For example, BiFrost Pictures’ Daniel Wagner entered the market with three projects, all driven by the reputation of the names attached to them. For example, Don Cheadle’s directorial debut, Kill the Trumpet Player, a biopic about jazz legend Miles Davis, awarded Mr. Wagner with many meetings of interest.
Exclusive Media’s Big Moves:
Exclusive Media sealed many deals in the foreign market for their mystery flick, Dark Places, starring Charlize Theron and based on the novel by Gillian Flynn. The company connected with CCC in Japan and Mars of France, just to name a few.
In addition, Exclusive Media brought two other films to the market to exhibit to buyers, Gillian Greene’s Murder of a Cat (produced by Sam Raimi) and the supernatural thriller Shomer.
Cheadle’s Miles Davis film wasn’t the only biopic causing a buzz at the market. For instance, a Marvin Gaye feature titled Sexual Healing, from Arrow Entertainment, will star Jesse L. Martin as the Motown legend. Just Timberlake will star as producer Neil Bogart in Foresight’s Spinning Gold, and John Cusack transforms into the troubled musical genius Brian Wilson for Lionsgate’s Love & Mercy. Other biopics looking to sell globally include films about Janis Joplin, Tupak Shakur, and Keith Moon, a film the band’s singer, Roger Daltrey has been trying to make for twenty years. Though it’s still untitled and in its early stages, the biopic of the famed drummer has picked up momentum, as it’s set to be the first project of Exclusive Media and Da Vinci Media Ventures new financing pact. The pact, made after Cannes, agrees the two companies to a rolling four-picture equity deal.
In true pop icon fashion, Elton John created the biggest buzz for his own biopic feature starring Tom Hardy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 100 foreign buyers mingled at the Bel-Air Bay Club for an event hosted by the leading foreign sales outfit Good Universe. The movie is titled Rocket Man and will be produced by a list of big names, including executive producer, and CEO of Focus Features, Peter Schlessel.
Have a movie budget question? Feel free to tweet us: @FilmBudget