September 11, 2017
Updated: September 12, 2017
TIFF Take Monday
This year’s Toronto International Film Festival is underway and distribution activity is steady. There are no must-haves at the at the moment, but there are plenty of films, officially screening and otherwise, to wet the appetite of distributors and streamers alike.
UPDATED: CBS Films did not acquire I, Tonya after all. The film secured domestic distribution with Neon (Tom Quinn’s new company after leaving TWC’s Radius) and 30WEST.
Reportedly, Neon paid $5 million for the film starring Margot Robbie about disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding.
This is the latest example reiterating that unseen films are worth more. CBS Films was willing to pay $6 million before the film’s screening but capped their offer at $2 million once seen.
Netflix offered an $8 million streaming deal for the film, but the producers were tempted by the allure of a theatrical release and an awards season run.
A new distribution company founded by Byron Allen, Entertainment Studios, acquired U.S. rights to the Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller Replicas for $4 million. Lotus Entertainment is the international sales agent.
The Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios also acquired Chappaquiddick for U.S. distribution for $4 million. Sierra/Affinity is the film’s international sales agent.
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Since launching, Allen’s company has been active acquiring middle-market films ready for release, after this year’s successful launch of the genre film 47 Meters Down.
As previously reported, Tang Media Partners is set to purchase Open Road Films for a nominal sum, illustrating the difficulties for distributors operating in the middle-market.
Open Road joins a list of similar companies, e.g., Miramax and Relativity, that couldn’t successfully release films in the market between studio and independent films without being crushed by debt costs.
MGM will try its hand at the middle-market as well, after announcing the re-launch of Orion Pictures.
Will Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios suffer the same fate?
Open Road was founded as a joint-venture by AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment in 2011.
While Open Road did try to develop and produce some of their own films, the business model was to buy distribution rights to larger budget independent films, usually up front as a presale.
One of their high profile acquisitions was the indie hit Dope for $7 million at Sundance in 2015. They pre-bought Triple 9 for $3.5 million and acquired Chef for $2.5 million.
Netflix’s Boards Early
Chris Pine will star the period epic Outlaw King about iconic Scotsman Robert The Bruce, the 14th century King Of The Scots.
Outlaw King is the first UK feature Netflix has boarded ahead of production.
The film is currently shooting in Scotland and reunites director David Mackenzie with Chris Pine following the Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water.
Google Marches In
UPDATED: Online streamer, YouTube Red and new company 30WEST closed distribution with Morgan Spurlock on his follow-up to Super Size Me, Holy Chicken! The film screened Friday at TIFF.
YouTube Red and 30WEST paid $3.5 million for exclusive distribution rights.