‘The Addams Family,’ ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Top Studios’ TV Ad Spending
By iSpot.tv LOS ANGELES (Variety) – In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv , MGM claims the top spot in spending with “The Addams Family.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $6.38 million through Sunday for 1,728 national ad airings on 40 networks. (Spend figures are based on estimates generated from Oct. 7-13. Estimates may be updated after the chart is posted as new information becomes available.) MGM prioritized spend across networks including NBC, Fox and CBS, and during programming such as “This Is Us,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Family Guy.” Just behind “” in second place: Paramount Pictures’ “Terminator: Dark Fate,” which saw 307 national ad airings across 33 networks, with an estimated media value of $5.95 million. TV ad placements for Walt Disney Pictures’ “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” (EMV: $5.51 million), Paramount’s “Gemini Man” ($5.41 million) and Columbia Pictures’ “Zombieland: Double Tap” ($4.83 million) round out the chart. Notably, “” has the best iSpot Attention Index (128) in the ranking, getting 28% fewer interruptions than the average movie ad (interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV). Top Movie Commercials by Weekly TV Spend Data provided by iSpot.tv $6.38M – The Addams Family Impressions: 523,678,374 Attention Score: 93.55 Attention Index: 92 National Airings: 1,728 Networks: 40 Most Spend On: NBC, FOX Creative Versions: 29 Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $27.15M Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Started Airing: 09/09/19 $5.95M – Impressions: 175,460,381 Attention Score: 95.54 Attention Index: 125 National Airings: 307 Networks: 33 Most Spend On: NBC, FOX Creative Versions: 4 Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $8.57M Studio: Paramount Pictures Started Airing: 05/30/19 $5.51M – Impressions: 412,406,988 Attention Score: 95.27 Attention Index: 120 National Airings: 927 Networks: 34 Most Spend On: NBC, ABC Creative Versions: 48 Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $18.06M Studio: Walt Disney Pictures Started Airing: 05/14/19 $5.41M – Impressions: 403,370,844 Attention Score: 93.01 Attention Index: 85 National Airings: 1,161 Networks: 37 Most Spend On: NBC, FOX Creative Versions: 37 Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $26.27M Studio: Paramount Pictures Started Airing: 09/15/19 $4.83M – Zombieland: Double Tap Impressions: 266,845,612 Attention Score: 95.75 Attention Index: 128 National Airings: 683 Networks: 31 Most Spend On: FOX, ESPN Creative Versions: 26 Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $10.89M Studio: Columbia Pictures Started Airing: 08/27/19 1 Movie titles with a minimum spend of $100,000 for airings detected between 10/07/2019 and 10/13/2019. * TV Impressions – Total TV ad impressions delivered for the brand or spot. * Attention Score – Measures the propensity of consumers to interrupt an ad play on TV. The higher the score, the more complete views. Actions that interrupt an ad play include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV. * Attention Index – Represents the Attention of a specific creative or program placement vs the average. The average is represented by a score of 100, and the total index range is from 0 through 200. For example, an attention index of 125 means that there are 25% fewer interrupted ad plays compared to the average. Variety has partnered with iSpot.tv , the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company, to bring you this weekly look at what studios are spending to market their movies on TV. Learn more about the iSpot.tv platform and methodology .
Pingyao International Film Festival Garlands Brazil’s ‘The Fever,’ Singapore’s ‘Wet Season’
By Rebecca Davis LOS ANGELES (Variety) – The Pingyao International Film Festival on Wednesday crowned “The Fever” by Maya Da-Rin as best film in its international category and “Wet Season” by Anthony Chen as the top title in its Chinese-language section. The Roberto Rossellini Awards at the festival go to the top international directorial debuts or second features. Taking to the stage at the awards ceremony, Brazil’s Da-Rin said the prize was “a great honor.” “This film has been made through seven years of a lot of work of a lot of people — people who give their lives to cinema and believe that through cinema we can think about our world,” she said. “The Fever” also won Best Actor and the FIPRESCI prize at Locarno this year. Two other Roberto Rossellini Awards were handed out: the jury award to Chinese helmer Liang Ming for his debut, “Wisdom Tooth,” and the prize for best director to the Belgium-based Guatemalan director Cesar Diaz for his debut, “Our Mothers,” which also won the Camera d’Or at Cannes this year, where it screened in Critics’ Week. The latter tells the story of a young forensic anthropologist who goes digging into the disappearance of his father, a guerrilla fighter who vanished in the 1980s. The section was judged by 2019 Cannes Jury Prize-winning Brazilian director Kelber Mendonca Filho (“Bacurau”), Indian director Ivan Ayr (“Soni”), Chinese directors Bai Xue (“The Crossing”) and Guan Hu (“The Eight Hundred”), and Kong Jinglei. Pingyao also gave out a series of Fei Mu Awards to the top talent in debut or second feature films in Chinese. They honored “” by Singaporean Chen as best film. It debuted last month at the Toronto International Film Festival. Chen’s first feature, “Ilo Ilo,” premiered as part of Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2013, where it won the Camera d’Or. “Wet Season” also nabbed Pingyao’s Cinephilia Critics’ Award. Liang also took home a best director Fei Mu prize for “Wisdom Tooth.” The coming-of-age tale tells the story of a young girl in cold northeastern China whose close relationship with her brother changes after he encounters a love interest and an ocean oil spill puts his work as a fishmonger on hold. Wang Xuebing won best actor for his work in Ju Anqi’s “A Trophy on the Sea,” while Malaysia’s Yeo Yann Yann won best actress for her second collaboration with Chen in “Wet Season.” The category was judged by Berlin Film Festival artistic director Carlo Chatrian, actress and director Joan Chen, Italy’s Giorgio Gosetti, and ’s Huo Meng and Zhang Yibai. Ju’s “A Trophy on the Sea” also nabbed a Fei Mu Award special mention, as well as the Youth Jury Award. Pingyao also honored longtime Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi with its International Contribution to Chinese Cinema Award and director Zhang Yimou with its Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon East-West Award for his “contributions to the development of East-West film culture.” Zhang was present on day two of the festival to give a public master class that was swarmed with acolytes and young film buffs.
Ken Burns, Library of Congress to Present Documentary Award to ‘Flannery’
By Dave McNary LOS ANGELES (Variety) – Documentarian Ken Burns is partnering with the and two philanthropic organizations to present a new award to “Flannery,” a documentary about Flannery O’Connor. Filmmaker Elizabeth Coffman and Jesuit priest Mark Bosco will be presented the first Library of Congress Lavine/ Prize for Film on Oct. 17 at the library. The award includes a $200,000 grant to finish the film. “‘Flannery’ is an extraordinary documentary that allows us to follow the creative process of one of our country’s greatest writers,” Burns said. “It also provides us a glimpse into her life, including her Catholic faith, her unusual sensitivity to race as a Southern white woman, and her daily struggles with illness and the prospect and reality of an early mortality. The story is beautifully told and captures the power of her southern birth and life. We’re hopeful that a new generation of readers will re-discover the writings of Flannery O’Connor because of this film.” Burns told Variety that finishing funds are crucial for young documentarians — a scenario he faced four decades ago when he was attempting to complete his first project, “Brooklyn Bridge,” and had to figure out how to raise $50,000. “I looked about 12 at the time,” he recalled. “One of things I did was adopt a very low-cost lifestyle in New Hampshire, where I live to this day.” A total of 80 films were submitted for consideration earlier this year. Ten movies were then reviewed by an internal committee consisting of filmmakers from Florentine Films and staff from the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. The six finalists were reviewed by a jury of experts and the winner was selected by the Librarian of Congress and Carla Hayden, in consultation with Burns. Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine provided the funding to the Better Angels Society to endow this award through the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation. “We believe that history helps all of us better understand who we are as a people and how our culture is enriched by diverse voices,” they said. “Flannery O’Connor was an artist of remarkable talent and originality, but she also defied simple categorization given her southern upbringing, her strong Catholic faith, and her commitment to a sense of place and individuality.” The Better Angels Society has supplemented the Lavines’ award by providing additional prizes to finalists, with $50,000 to “Mae West: Dirty Blonde,” directed by Sally Rosenthal, and $25,000 grants to “The Adventures of Sally Bellow,” directed by Assaf Galay; “The First Angry Man,” directed by Jason Cohn; “Mr Soul,” directed by Melissa Haizlip; and “9 to 5: The Story of a Movement,” directed by Julia Reichert. Burns has won 16 Emmy Awards. He’s been nominated for Oscars for “Brooklyn Bridge” and “The Statue of Liberty.” His eight-part “Country Music” series aired last month and he’s working on projects on Ernest Hemingway, Muhammad Ali, Ben Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, the Holocaust, President Lyndon Johnson and the American buffalo.
Paradigm’s Tom Windish Teams With Future Classic to Launch Wilder Label
By Variety Staff LOS ANGELES (Variety) – Future Classic and Paradigm agent Tom Windish today announce the formation of a new record label: Wilder, a singles oriented joint-venture set on creating a release pipeline for emerging young artists and bands. Wilder — named after Windish’s newborn son — launches today with the re-release of ”Applesauce” the first single from 19-year old Indiana-based singer and producer Sam.Sts . More singles are expected in the coming months. Windish has a long history of spotting talent early in the game, with Lorde and Billie Eilish as just two of his more recent discoveries that have gone on to stardom, and Wilder is another outlet for that talent. “Wilder is a means to get music released, promoted and discovered by as many people as possible,” he says. “Quite simply, we’re willing to promote and release music before anybody else is.” Earlier this year Future Classic, the home to artists including Flume and Nick Murphy / Chet Faker, announced its Studio Residency program with Dropbox where emerging and unsigned artists can apply for two-week mentorships with the Future Classic team at their Los Angeles-based recording studio. Sam.Sts (born Sam Latty) is a product of that collaborative residency, spending his two weeks at Future Classic last month writing with young producers and artists like Lecx Stacy, Naz, Matt Neighbour, Noah Breakfast and more. “I’ve known Nathan and the Future Classic crew for a long time.” Windish says. “They have outstanding curation, creativity and work ethic. I cannot emphasize their long term approach to artist development enough, and for that reason I could not think of a better label partner.” He sees Sam.Sts as a perfect artist to launch Wilder. “I just couldn’t stop playing it,” referring to “Applesauce,” the forthcoming debut single for Wilder. Nathan McLay, founder and CEO of Future Classic, agreed. “Sam’s amazing. His music has both depth and a sense of freedom and lightness. He’s fresh but also got old-school class.” The Future Classic Residency is running until December. Interested applicants can learn more and apply via the following link: residency.futureclassic.com
CNN Plots Expansion of ‘Citizen’ Conference (EXCLUSIVE)
By Brian Steinberg LOS ANGELES (Variety) – interacts with most of its viewers via TV screen or mobile device. In weeks to come, however, the news outlet hopes to start engaging its audience at state fairs and local festivals. The AT&T-owned news network plans new extensions for the “Citizen by CNN” forum it launched last year that aims to spur viewers to develop a more active relationship with politics. In October of 2018, CNN debuted an invite-only “” conference in New York that included interviews with White House adviser Jared Kusher, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi along with remarks from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That event will take place once again on October 24, but it won’t take another year to lapse before it returns. CNN is planning to bring a series of “experiences” to various parts of the nation throughout the 2020 campaign. “We see an opportunity to harness the energy around the participation and broaden out the brand, connect with audiences in a more personal way,” says Allie Kleva, CNN’s vice president of strategic partnerships and marketing, in an interview. CNN is in talks with potential sponsors for various elements of its plans, she added. In an era when fans of content like to talk about them on Twitter, Instagram and other social-media outlets, a number of prominent media companies have realized they can no longer only interact with audiences via a screen. They need to meet viewers in more personal fashion. Little wonder, then, that Viacom has launched live events and concerts based on content from its Comedy Central and Nickelodeon cable networks, as has AT&T’s Adult Swim. Digital-media outlets like BuzzFeed and Refinery29 have also experimented with concepts that bring people together . The media outlets hope the consumers they gather will pass along news and video of the events via social media, hooking the interest of a broader base of potential customers. In some cases, advertisers hitch along for the ride, betting the audience will look upon their participation as part of the show. There are also bigger convocations, like the Atlantic Media Festival or the Aspen Ideas Festival, that often generate stories from other news outlets. The goal is to get CNN more involved in its viewers’ lives, says Nitya Chambers, CNN’s vice president of content development, and to lend CNN new insight into audience behavior. “This puts us into how they are engaging with news and information on the ground, talking to them on their phones,” she says. “It will give us tools for understanding how news and information is intersecting with their lives, and driving the conversations they are having and the actions they are taking.” This year’s “Citizen” conference is slated to include conversations with NBC late-night host Seth Meyers; Goldman Sachs senior chairman Lloyd Blankfein; former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power; and others. Jeff Zucker, chairman of news and sports for CNN parent WarnerMedia, will also take part in a segment of the conference. Zucker is the executive who directly oversees CNN. Dana Bash, Jake Tapper, Brian Stelter, Poppy Harlow, Gloria Borger, Christiane Amanpour and Fareed Zakaria are among the CNN staff expected to appear. Following the event, CNN intends to bring “Citizen”-branded displays to stops in so-called “battleground” states; future political debates; the Democratic and Republican national conventions; and various concerts and festivals. A camper branded with the “Citizen by CNN” logo will appear at some of the events, and the news outlet plans to partner with voter registration organizations and offer coverage from on its CNN’s digital properties, including a social “On the Road” initiative, that will provide sights and sounds from the 2020 campaign trail via CNN’s social media accounts.
Iconic Chinese Auteur Jia Zhangke Touts Trio of Projects at Pingyao
By Rebecca Davis LOS ANGELES (Variety) – No one attending the Pingyao International Film Festival can escape learning about Jia Zhangke’s upcoming projects, with the same three trailers for them playing before each and every screening. The art house icon-turned-businessman’s presence looms large over the event he founded in his home province. First off, there is a new collaboration between Jia and Momo, a Chinese social media app that started as a Tinder knock-off and now appears to be pivoting in more wholesome directions, with moves into live-streaming and now film production, via a new arm called Momo Pictures. The app is one of the main sponsors of the festival, which Jia founded in his native Shanxi Province. Jia will executive produce Momo’s first foray into features, a Beijing-based production called “The Best is Yet to Come.” A co-production between his Fabula Entertainment and Momo Pictures, it will be the first full-length work by newcomer Wang Jing, a Beijing Film Academy graduate who was Jia’s assistant director on “Ash is Purest White,” “Mountains May Depart,” and “A Touch of Sin,” as well as Cai Shangjun’s assistant director on 2017’s “The Conformist.” The new project will star Bai Ke (“The Founding of an Army”). An adaptation of a real-life story, it tells the tale of a high-school dropout named Han Dong, who, unhappy with his comfortable small town life and with dreams of becoming a reporter, ignores his family’s warnings and leaves home to make a new life for himself in Beijing. Jia will be taking a rare turn in front of the camera in a new film “Pseudo Idealist,” directed by Cheng Er (“The Wasted Times”). Shooting is expected to begin later this year, targeting a May 2020 release date. Jia, who is married to one of China’s foremost actresses, Zhao Tao, previously appeared in “Karmic Mahjong,” and has had minor, sometimes uncredited, roles in several of his own movies. He was also subject of the 2014 Walter Salles documentary “A Guy From Fenyang.” “One morning, upon waking, Descartes decided to discuss body and soul as separate entities,” Jia says in the trailer, before an interlocutor counters, “Aren’t you concerned that no one cares about Descartes?” Another of Jia’s projects, the documentary “So Close to My Land,” is set for a late 2019 release. It sets forth interviews with ten different novelists — including Nobel Laureate Mo Yan, Yu Hua and Jia Pingwa — as they reflect on their lives and the 70 years of history since the Communist Party founded the People’s Republic. Founded in 2011, the NASDAQ-listed Momo says its app had a monthly active user base of more than 113 million people as of June. In March 2018, the company acquired Tantan, another swiping and location-based Tinder-style dating app.
Italy’s L’Immagine Ritrovata Expected to Take Over France’s Eclair Cinema
By Ed Meza LOS ANGELES (Variety) – LYON, France — Leading Italian restoration company L’Immagine Ritrovata’s acquisition of renowned film lab Eclair Cinéma, announced last month, is expected to be approved by the French Commercial Court of Nanterre at the end of November or beginning of December, according to a source familiar with the deal. L’Immagine Ritrovata’s French subsidiary, L’Image Retrouvée, last month signed a binding letter with Paris-based Ymagis Group, a key European player in digital technologies for the film industry, to take over Eclair, which was placed in receivership in 2018. Eclair has since undergone major restructuring and is again focused on restoration activities, an area of expertise in which it is a leader in France, boasting more than 750 feature film restorations. The company generated €2.32 million ($2.55 million) in revenue from its core business n the first half of 2019. “It is an agreement between two companies, which play a major role in film restoration and which have already worked together on joint projects in the past,” said L’Immagine Ritrovata managing director Davide Pozzi. He added: “This continuation plan is part of a desire to secure the long-term future of operations and achieve the highest possible quality work. The Eclair brand, of which Eclair Cinema is a part, is a significant actor in the history and tradition of the major French laboratories, and it is an immense honor for me personally to now be able to play an increasing role in film restoration in France.” Ymagis President and CEO Jean Mizrahi added that the agreement was “the culmination of our efforts to find a positive outcome to the difficult position in which Eclair Cinéma found itself.” The deal “ensures the long-term future of these highly technical restoration activities which are key to the valuation of France’s cinema heritage,” he stressed. Ymagis acquired Eclair Group’s businesses in 2015. With the vast majority of Eclair Cinéma’s workforce retained, the agreement would also ensure the continuity of service for the company’s clients. L’Immagine Ritrovata is present at the Lumière Festival in Lyon, France, with more than 10 feature films and a number of high-profile shorts that it has restored for various distributors and rights holders, among them Jean Renoir’s 1935 “Toni,” for Gaumont; André Cayatte’s 1949 “The Lovers of Verona,” for Pathé Films; Philippe de Broca’s 1962 “Swords of Blood,” for Studiocanal; and the Charlie Chaplin shorts “The Immigrant,” “The Floorwalker” and “The Adventurer,” for the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Lobster Films. A highly specialized film restoration lab, L’Immagine Ritrovata was founded as part of the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna, with which the laboratory is in continual close collaboration. The group’s other restorations unspooling at the Lumière Festival include: *Abel Gance’s 1923 “The Wheel,” for Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé in collaboration with Pathé Films, Cinémathèque Française, Cinémathèque Suisse; *Vittorio De Sica’s 1951 “Miracle in Milan,” for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Compass Film; *Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s 1998 “Flowers of Shanghai,” for the Shanghai Film Festival, in collaboration with Shochiku Co. and 3H Production; *Marco Bellocchio’s 1965 “Fists in the Pocket,” for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Kavak Film; *Marco Ferreri’s 1963 “The Conjugal Bed,” for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and TF1 Studio; *Maurice Tourneur’s 1919 “The Broken Butterfly,” for The Film Foundation, in association with Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé; *Forough Farrokhzad’s 1963 “The House is Black, for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Ecran Noir Productions, in collaboration with Ebrahim Golestan; *Ebrahim Golestan’s 1963 “The Hills of Marlik,” for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Ecran Noir Productions in collaboration with Ebrahim Golestan; *Emile Cohl short films, for Gaumont.
Boutique Distributor Manuel Chiche Offers a State of the Industry
By Ben Croll LOS ANGELES (Variety) – LYON, France — Manuel Chiche is riding high. Since June, his boutique distribution outlet The Jokers set admission records with Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” selling nearly 1.7 million tickets in France and still going strong as the film heads into its 19th week in theaters. Indeed, “Parasite” is now the second most successful Palme d’Or winner of the 21st century at the French box office – but don’t expect Chiche or any of his outfits to scale up as a result. “We want to remains as artisans, in a business that doesn’t always allow for that,” says the French exec, who also runs reissue outfit La Rabbia. On the occasion of this year’s Lumière Festival, Variety sat down with Chiche for a kind state of the industry on the French reissue landscape. Is there a particular time of year most amenable to reissues? In France, it’s always in the summer. There are few releases other than big blockbusters, so people use that period to revisit old classics. Something like 60% of the year’s heritage releases come out within a period of three months – which can make for a crowded marketplace. You have to harmonize your release schedule with heritage distributors, and you have to build excitement around the film. It can be a lot of work for relatively little reward, but what can you do, it’s what we love. In 2017, your company put out a new restoration of Bong Joon-ho’s “Memories of Murder” just a few months after his film “Okja” bowed in competition at Cannes. Was the idea to build on buzz, and does that point towards an effective model in the current marketplace? I think so, yes. [With “Memories of Murder,”] the idea was to bring the film to a public that was too young to discover it upon initial release. Since 2003, Bong has become much better known among the younger public, so we were quite happy with the result of that re-release [which sold around 20,000 tickets]. We tried that strategy again with Park Chan-wook’s “Joint Security Area” [the following year], and that did very well too. That film never had an original release in France, so the filmgoers were delighted to discover the film on the big screen. Really, all models are possible so long as you can make the release something of an event. Today, repertory film’s biggest challenge is the fact that there are an overwhelming number of choices competing for the viewer’s time and attention. If you don’t make your release an event, you’ll flop. And yet, you’ve expressed wariness regarding big title reissues. I’m not crazy about what you could call ‘sure bets,’ retrospectives of the most famous directors and their best-known films. I’m more interested in promoting forgotten directors, or those who have fallen out of fashion. Of course, people will always respond to whatever films get the biggest publicity push, to whatever film becomes a must-see event, which is why I think the cornucopia of choices available has had an adverse effect on the public’s curiosity. Today, people are less likely to seek things out, and more likely to respond to what cuts through the noise. So it’s interesting challenge to try release titles that are a bit different. And does that affect how La Rabbia puts together its slate? That’s why I prefer to take more time to release fewer films. Putting things together takes time, and I like to give that to myself. We’re in a time of hyper-consumption and hyper-stimulation, and I thought, why not go the other direction, and see what that gives. Where everyone says more, I say less. That’s what we try to do with The Jokers and with La Rabbia. We’re a team of four, so we can’t realistically put out twenty films year anyway, but we want to offer a lot of time and effort towards everything we put out. How has the landscape evolved in recent years? Older viewers, like people my own age, will often show up without much prompting. On the other hand, you have to reach out to younger viewers on social media and bring them in. [To do that,] you have to help them discover contemporary classics; films that are recent and modern, but that are already ten years old, so have become “heritage cinema.” The notion of what is a “heritage film” has really changed in recent years. Is it something from 30-40 years ago, or can it be something that came out in the early 2000s? Today I think you can succeed with modern classics. Take “Donnie Darko,” for example. Carlotta Films re-released it last year, and did very well with title, bringing it to a public that did not see it in 2002. Plus, series like “Stranger Things” have led to a revival in all things ‘80s and genre, so those titles are doing very well too. What does La Rabbia’s slate look like for the near future? This year we’re just doing one release: Lee Tamahori’s 1994 film “Once Were Warriors.” It’s a very rough film that stands in stark contrast to the very antiseptic cinema of today. The movie really goes for it, exploring tough subjects like domestic violence in very direct way. That’s still a hot button issue in France, so we’ll see how it does. Next year we have one lined up as well: Shohei Imamura’s 1989 film “Black Rain.” That deals with atomic fears and consequences, and that’s still very relevant, plus it’s my favorite of his films. We re-released his [1983 Palme d’Or winner] “The Ballad of Narayama” last year, and it went very well, but that was already a well-known film. Releasing “Black Rain” will be complicated, and maybe more interesting too. You’ve also worked with Nicolas Winding Refn to develop his own streaming site ‘byNWR.’ What was the idea behind that micro-platform? Nic is a passionate cinephile. He has a real vision not only about how films get made, but also how they get distributed and how they might go into the world in the future. We worked together on the original byNWR.com platform and its subsequent iterations because we both believe that labels/brands can be just as powerful in the distribution landscape as they are in the fashion world. Already such an established director — and one who attracts both supporters and detractors in equal measure, which I think is fantastic – Nic wants to align a community around his name, his interests and his vision of the history of cinema. It’s the world of culture filtered through his personal vision, in so many words. That could also mean books, live events, or shorts from directors we believe in. His brand is clear enough that it can encompass all that – and to a lesser degree that’s also true for us at The Jokers/La Rabbia. We’ve also developed a brand, and worked to position in within the public eye. It’s all about defining your set of beliefs, and then finding the public that shares them. One last question – it seems Charles Laughton’s “Night of the Hunter” is always playing somewhere in Paris. What makes that film such a powerhouse repertory item? It’s a film about the fears of childhood. We’ve all felt those fears at one point. It’s a fairy tale that is, for me, perfectly made entirely, for all of its imperfections. There’s something magic about the film, it somehow sends you back to your childhood every time see it. That’s why it’s eternal. As to why it’s always playing in Paris? Well, the film is part of the national educational curriculum for either middle school or high school. So I think that a lot of teachers take their classes to see it every single year – which I think they enjoy, because it’s a black and white fairy tale we all grew up with.
Criterion Collection President Peter Becker on Storytelling, Bergman vs. Godzilla, B-Movies
By Ed Meza LOS ANGELES (Variety) – LYON, France — The Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) kicked off on Tuesday in Lyon, France, with a keynote address by Criterion Collection President Peter Becker. The exec discussed the company’s storied history and evolution over the decades into a leading publisher of classic and contemporary films from around the world in high-quality editions and award-winning, original supplements. Making his devotion to film culture clearly evident, Becker noted that Criterion’s focus was squarely on its films and less on the company itself. “I never do this. We never come out and talk about Criterion. This is very rare. We did this for [Lumière Festival Director] Thierry Frémaux. … Everybody wants to see the movies. We let the movies carry the brand into the market place, so we don’t talk about the company very much.” This year the group launched the Criterion Channel, a streaming library of more than 1,000 classic and contemporary films, plus a constantly refreshed selection of Hollywood, international, arthouse and independent films from major studios and dozens of independent distributors. “It would be a mistake for the company to be static and not to be constantly evaluating what it’s advocating, what its impact in the world is, how it can improve,” Becker said, stressing that most importantly the company must stay true to itself. “The story is the story that we are telling to our audience, it’s the story that we are telling to our filmmakers and it’s the story that we are telling to our licensors. If you’re not telling the truth about what you’re doing, you can’t keep telling those stories to all those different people and not trip it up. You have to know why you’re doing what you’re doing.” He added: “The idea basically is that it would be wrong to treat Bergman the same way as we treat Godzilla, but it would also in some ways be wrong to treat Godzilla with any less respect than we treat Bergman with.” Criterion last year released its “Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema” Blu-ray disc box featuring 39 films and a book featuring critical essays on each of the films. It’s new “Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975” collection, which comprises 15 digitally restored films and a book featuring newly commissioned illustrations by high-profile artists, is scheduled for release Oct. 29. Becker stressed that publishing was not just about bringing products into the world but rather “about how you’re putting it into the world. What it looks like, what it feels like. Even just the finish on “Godzilla” feels a little bit like skin, it’s nice. It’s little details like that that you need to pay attention to – those are all part of publishing.” What makes films special are the stories they tell, Becker explained. “People always ask us what is the criterion for the , and we always say a film should be an exemplary film of its kind, it should be something we want to talk about, it should be a rich point of entry, but we try not to be snobby about what kinds of films can actually be exemplary. There are exemplary B-movies.” As a prime example, Becker pointed to Jack Woods’ 1970 creature feature homage “Equinox,” which featured the early work of future nine-time Oscar-winning visual effects artist Dennis Muren. Becker described it as one of his favorite Criterion releases despite it being “really a quite terrible movie from a certain perspective. … But it was so important as a piece of storytelling. It’s a film that was made using stop-motion animation in a garage in California by the people who would go on to start DreamWorks and ILM, Industrial Light & Magic, who would be working at LucasArts and Lucasfilm, and they’re using the technology of Ray Harryhausen in their garage to make a monster movie. “That moment to me, what’s happening in that garage, that’s a really interesting story. And I think for anybody who pulls that release off the shelf and takes a look at that movie, they’re going to have a great time because the movie is a riot, it’s hilarious, they were having fun in the garage, but it’s not arthouse greatness – it’s not that. It’s a great story. So yes, everything is storytelling for the company.”
International Execs Descend on Rome as MIA Market Serves Fresh Films, TV Dramas, Docs
By Nick Vivarelli LOS ANGELES (Variety) – Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries kicks off today with hundreds of international buyers descending upon the Eternal City for four-days (Oct. 16-20) of presentations of fresh top-notch mostly European product and dealmaking done in a more relaxed setting than Mipcom. The new concept mart now at its 5th edition, which dovetails with Mipcom, will see industry executives flying into Rome from Cannes. But there is also a considerable contingent coming to MIA that skipped Mipcom entirely. From the U.S. this group includes execs from talent agencies WME and CAA that are increasingly active in packaging overseas projects and representing European talents. Top execs from most of the major U.S. streaming platforms, such as Netflix Director of International Originals Felipe Tewes, will also be attending MIA, as are Hollywood heavyweights Kevin Beggs, chairman of Lionsgate Television Group, who will be a keynote speaker, Stefanie Berk EVP of Television at FilmNation, and Kino Lorber chief Richard Lorber. Alex Mahon, chief executive of British pubcaster Channel 4, will hold a keynote conversation with “Walter Presents” host Walter Iuzzolino about the convergence between linear and non linear TV programming. European pubcastsers , France Télévision and ZDF will announce a slate of jointly produced projects, under their The Alliance banner, that include a high-end “Leonardo” series to be helmed by Dan Percival (“The Man in the High Castle”). The mart is held a stone’s throw from Rome’s cinematic Via Veneto in a central area between the 17th century Palazzo Barberini (pictured) where meetings and several MIA events are held, and nearby cinemas. The roughly 120 movies in various stages that are being presented to buyers, half of which are market premieres, comprise a robust representation of female directors such as Sally Potter’s Brexit-inspired comedy “Alba,” Belgian director Vanja d’Alcantara’s “Vancouver,” billed as an actioner with a female lead, and “Talitha Kumi,” a sadomasochistic love story by Israel’s Hadar Morag whose first feature “Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me” went to Venice in 2015. Among standout Italian films being launched at MIA is “The Immortal,” a prequel of hit Neapolitan crime TV series “Gomorrah,” directed by actor/helmer Marco D’Amore, who plays ruthless central character Ciro Di Marzio on the gritty mob show. “The Immortal” which will be released locally in December, is among the country’s most hotly anticipated titles. Five years after its launch MIA has gained the status of a market that provides exciting new completed and upcoming product, boasts market chief Lucia Milazzotto (see seperate Q&A) who notes that the American presence at MIA is larger this year because U.S. companies “need a one-stop-shop to buy European content that they don’t find at Mipcom, since there is too much stuff there,” she says. They also don’t find it at AFM, “which is the opposite of us,” Milazzotto adds, because AFM is “really all about U.S. product and also you don’t find projects elsewhere in initial stages.”