Fox Searchlight may not have duplicated its stunning performance with its 1997 megahit “The Full Monty” since, but its below-the-radar, steady pursuit of its fine tuned businessplan continues its consistent track record, quietly rolling up profits for the specialty division.
The company which is now in its third year with Brit Peter Rice at its helm, Searchlight has stuck to its ambition to observe its $15 million cap on negative costs, limit the number of releases to less than a dozen annually –ideally between 10-12 — and combine a blend of acquisitions and productions that manages to nail elusive niches.
This year, shingle has seen big success with two very different films — its $2.5 million acquisition of “Super Troopers” has grossed $18.5 million to date and its $1 million buy of “Kissing Jessica Stein” which has grossed approximately $7 million.
“We feel if we’re not in the blockbuster business, having a very closely defined audience enables us to spend our money and publicity efforts meaningfully,” explains Nancy Utley, president of marketing.
“A combination of factors have coalesced at Searchlight,” adds Steve Gilula, president of distribution. “We only want to be involved with films that are theatrical and with films that people want to get out and see in movie theaters, that we feel passionate about and can attract audiences to. The specialty business is extremely healthy right now but it is harder and harder for movies to perform. You have to focus on the films you believe in.”
For the rest of 2002, Searchlight will be using a combination of wide and targeted releases for such fare as its offbeat dramas “The Good Girl” with Jennifer Aniston on Aug 7. and is expected to capitalize on the controversial nature of its Robin Williams starrer “One Hour Photo” Aug 21. Rounding out the rest of the year will be the wide release of “The Banger Sisters,” Sept 20 starring Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon due for release Sept 20, its romantic comedy “Brown Sugar” with Queen Latifah Oct 11, and its Oscar contenders the Untitled Jim Sheridan project which will receive a platform release Nov 29 and “Antwone Fisher,” Denzel Washington’s anticipated directorial debut Dec 20.