Frugal ways, foreign hits boost bottom line

Prolific and pennywise, Sony Classics has changed little in its decade and a half as one of the indie world’s mainstays.

SPC’s reluctance to bet big and adopt a studio mindset has served it well. Even if the past year wasn’t one of its all-time best, the company’s cost-consciousness kept it in the black.

The biggest winners were all foreign-language pics, an SPC trademark: Oscar winner “The Counterfeiters,” “The Band’s Visit” and “Persepolis.” Collectively, the trio took in almost $13 million domestically.

Less tenable were some of the bigger-budget pics, among them “Sleuth,” “The Jane Austen Book Club” and “Redbelt,” though ancillaries and territorial deals helped.

Co-toppers Michael Barker and Tom Bernard insist that no pic in the past year took a bath. “If revenues haven’t flowed from theatrical, they’ve flowed from TV or DVD,” Barker says. “Each media presents a different revenue opportunity.”

The fall slate once again holds kudos promise, with titles such as Cannes faves “Waltz With Bashir” and Palme d’Or winner “The Class.”

B.O. CUME: $27 million

TOP PIC: “The Counterfeiters,” $5.5 million

TOPPERS: Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, co-presidents; Tom Prassis, VP, distribution

UP NEXT:

“Rachel Getting Married” (Oct. 3),

“Ashes of Time Redux” (Oct. 10)

“I’ve Loved You So Long” (Oct. 24)

“Synecdoche, New York” (Oct. 24)

“The Class” (Dec. 12)

“Waltz With Bashir” (Dec. 26)

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