“Molly’s Game,” the acclaimed new drama about an underground poker game, marks a seminal moment for eOne and producer Mark Gordon.
The film, which screened at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival, is the first project to hit the screen from a new partnership between the U.K.- and Canada-based film and TV company and the producer of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” In 2015, eOne shelled out nearly $133 million for a controlling stake in Gordon’s production outfit with the goal of snapping up one of Hollywood’s top hit makers.
“The great thing about eOne is that because they are so strong in terms of their distribution operations, we are developing and making films that are anywhere from $5 million to $150 million,” Gordon told Variety. “There are no particular dos and don’ts as far as what movies to make. We just want them to be creatively strong, commercial pictures with an accent on quality.”
The goal is for Gordon’s group to produce anywhere from two to four films a year. The company thinks that “Narnia: The Silver Chair,” a revival of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” film series, will be its next project. It is partnering with Sony on the film. Other projects include the spy thriller “All the Old Knives.”
“We did the deal so we could have access to one of the best producing minds out there,” said Darren Throop, CEO of eOne. “We have a number of films in various stages of development. Over the next 12 to 24′ months you’re going to see a more consistent flow of projects.”
The company is already active on the small screen, producing series such as ABC’s hit “Designated Survivor.” Though Gordon is venturing into big-budget fantasy territory with the Narnia sequel, “Molly’s Game” may be more indicative of the kind of movies that could help the venture stand out. Gordon optioned the book about Molly Bloom, an entrepreneur who ran a high-stakes poker game that catered to Wall Street and Hollywood elite, then helped convince Aaron Sorkin to write the script and make his directorial debut. Jessica Chastain later joined the project as Bloom, and is seen as a potential best actress Oscar candidate.
Despite its starry pedigree, “Molly’s Game” is exactly the sort of movie that major studios have abandoned in favor of stories about cape-wearing vigilantes. It’s a thoughtful drama that relies on performances and punchy dialogue, not special effects, to make an impact.
“There’s an audience for these movies,” said Gordon. “You just have to figure out how to make it for the right price point.”
Throop would like to see the Mark Gordon Company plant a flag in territory that the major studios have abandoned.
“There is an opportunity for independent companies to fill a void,” he said. “‘Molly’s Game’ has a great writer and director, a great cast. We think it’s going to resonate well.”