FilmDistrict: Aims to shake up market

AFM Company Spotlight

While Graham King’s new domestic distribution venture aims to shake up the release market and go head-to-head with the studios, the company won’t necessarily be making headlines at AFM.

“I have the luxury of not having a business plan that requires me to buy anything there,” says FilmDistrict CEO Peter Schlessel, formerly of Sony Pictures. “If you do the hard work, you shouldn’t have to go to a film market or film festival to find product. You find it through daily interactions with agents and sales agents and reading millions of scripts every weekend.”

Rather, Schlessel believes the market is useful for networking.

“I think it’s important to look people in the eye and figure out what they’re looking for and help them achieve their goals and inspire the product that you need,” he says.

FilmDistrict won’t need to partner up on projects. “But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be open to co-financing or co-investing in P&A,” adds Schlessel.

FilmDistrict is already planning to release two films, likely in the first quarter of next year: Graham King productions “The Rum Diary” and “London Boulevard.” Schlessel says they may also add another couple titles around AFM.

But with the plans and the resources to distribute four to eight films a year, the company remains far from an open book.

Asked to define a FilmDistrict film, Schlessel will only say it’s one that’s worthy of a wide theatrical release. “So that doesn’t exclude any movie based on budget or genre,” he explains. “If it a deserves a 2,500-print release, I want people to think me and Bob Berney and FilmDistrict.”

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