In less than three years, Mister Smith Entertainment has parlayed output deals with key players in Hollywood and Europe to establish itself as an important source of upscale mainstream movies in the international marketplace.
Led by former Summit Entertainment execs David Garrett and Ralpho Borgos, Mister Smith’s CEO and chief of international licensing and distribution, respectively, the London-based film financing and sales outfit has a slate that includes Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” believed to be the director’s first movie to have been offered to the independent sector; “The Light Between Oceans,” written and directed by Derek Cianfrance and starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz; “Brain on Fire,” whose producers include Charlize Theron; “Equals,” with Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult; “The Man Who Knew Infinity” starring Dev Patel; and Jesse Owens biopic “Race,” which Focus is releasing in the U.S. before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Footage of “Race” will be shown at Cannes, where the company will be joined by U.S. indie Broad Green Pictures, which recently acquired a 45% stake in Mister Smith.
Mister Smith has three principal sources of movies for its pipeline: through its new deal with Broad Green, as well as pacts with DreamWorks and German giant Constantin, which owns a minority stake in Mister Smith. It also buys films from other independent producers.
In each territory, Mister Smith tends to work with one or two distributors, such as eOne in the U.K. and Metropolitan in France, similar to the approach Garrett and Borgos employed at Summit. The company remains involved throughout the life of a movie, from financing and production through distribution.
“We are very hands on all the way,” Borgos says. “Each film’s our baby. That’s why we are very keen to get the right distributor.”
Mister Smith handles DreamWorks titles in Europe, Middle East and Africa, while Disney releases them in other territories. Distributors in Mister Smith’s territories benefit from the relationship it has developed with the studio, gaining a sense of how a film’s marketing is being handled in key parts of the world. This sharing of information has already started on preparations for “The BFG,” even though the film isn’t due to be released until summer 2016.
“For buyers, it is important to have a good sense of how those campaigns are coming along in the U.S. and internationally,” Borgos says. “We want to help them and let them know we care about our films.”