×

Entrepreneurs” Find New Film Inroads

Independent entrepreneurs working in the crowded and shrinking world of Hollywood film are coming up, by necessity, with unusual ideas.

One, producer Krishna Shah’s Media Reps, is concentrating on the exclusive representation of indie producers of B-grade movies. Another, the recently created indie distribery Studio Three, is mounting an unprecedented cross-marketing campaign.

Studio Three, in preparation for the first feature release since its creation last July, has taken the unique step of marketing its film in videostores. Rental customers who rent any two horror titles in one of 400 videostores around the nation will be given a free bag of popcorn. The title of Studio Three’s Feb. 1 release, itself a horror pic from Movie Partners in conjunction with Century Films, is, of course, “Popcorn.”

Popular on Variety

“Popcorn” is the first of an originally planned 12 to 16 annual releases. The company’s mandate is to function as a boutique worldwide theatrical releasing company, assembling titles via negative pickups, partial investments, p& a funding and what founders Robert Cheren and Jonathan Wolf call “traditional rent-a-studio deals.” The company name derives from marketing, financing and distributing films – its planned three functions.

Middle ground

The company, in the words of Cheren, was aimed at the niche that exists between major studios who have “little interest in independently produced films” and indie distributors who “are in the releasing business primarily to service their own films.”

Cheren credits longtime associate Frank Wright with creating the $100,000 campaign, part of an overall $6 million North American marketing attack. It appears to be the first vid promotion for a theatrical release that doesn’t involve a sequel – i.e., the “Godfather,” “Back To The Future” and “Indiana Jones” series.

The 400 stores that next week will begin carrying the “Popcorn” promo items include the Blockbuster, Tower, Sam Goody and Video Trends chains.

“We are positioned in all the major metropolitan markets … where at the end of the day we may be looking at up to 75% of our audience,” Cheren says. “Not every homevideo rental customer is automatically a theatrical customer, of course, but this way we also reach people who may later be rental customers for us.”

The RCA/Columbia video release of “Popcorn” is scheduled for the end of May.

B middleman

Veteran B movie producer-director Krishna Shah has taken a similar “niche-oriented” approach to the industry. After a career as producer (and often director) of such titles as the highbrow “The River Niger” and the lowbrow “American Drive In,” and after stints with Cinevest and Double Helix, Shah formed Media Reps two years ago.

His goal: to function as middleman in the hostile terrain between distributors and producers – individuals with different and often conflicting concerns.

“I felt, because of my experience, that I understood the needs of both sides,” Shah says. “Producers need me because I can get their films distributed. Distributors need me because I can make sure they are buying all the rights that they think they are.”

Since Media Reps was born, those attentions have put over 40 films, ranging in budget from $200,000 to $4 million, into distribution. Among them are the Double Helix releases “Terror In Beverly Hills” and “Big Bad John,” and the South Gate Entertainment releases “Omega Cop” and “Chinatown Connection.” Thus far, Shah claims, his company has never failed to place any of its films in the marketplace. Media Reps’ fee is 10% of the producer’s fee.

Insisting that the current state of alarm over B titles at markets here and abroad is an overreaction, the Indian-born Shah says, “There is always, always, a market for B material.” He advises, however, increased attention to the specific needs of that niche market, including a cast that will sell.

“This market has become a buyer’s market, and we must concentrate more on the buyer’s needs.”

More Film

  • Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and

    Film News Roundup: Leonardo DiCaprio Presenting Robert De Niro SAG Life Achievement Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Leonardo DiCaprio will present Robert De Niro with his SAG Life Achievement Award, the Oliver Sacks documentary finds a home and UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television gets a new dean. AWARD PRESENTATION Leonardo DiCaprio has been selected to present Robert De Niro the SAG Life Achievement Award  at [...]

  • KARNAWAL

    ‘Karnawal,’ ‘Restless,’ ‘Summer White,’ ‘Firsts’ Win Big at Ventana Sur

    BUENOS AIRES  — With Ventana Sur now firing on multiple cylinders, featuring pix-in post or project competitions for not only art films but also genre pics and animation – two sectors embraced by young creators in Latin America – “Karnawal,” “Restless,” “Summer White” and  “Firsts” proved big winners among Ventana Sur’s arthouse and animation competitions, [...]

  • (center) George MacKay as Schofield in

    From "1917" to "Jojo Rabbit," Composers of Some of the Year's Top Scores Talk Shop

    “1917,” Thomas Newman The 20-year collaboration of director Sam Mendes and composer Thomas Newman has encompassed midlife crisis (“American Beauty”), crime in the Depression (“Road to Perdition”), the Gulf War (“Jarhead”), marriage in the 1950s (“Revolutionary Road”) and two James Bond adventures (“Skyfall,” “Spectre”). Now they’ve tackled World War I, with “1917,” but Mendes’ much-talked-about [...]

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • ROAD TRIP – In Disney and

    Disney Boasts a Bevy of Hopefuls for Oscar's Original Song Race

    When the Academy announces its shortlist for song nominations on Dec. 16, you can be certain that at least one Disney song will be on it and probably more. Disney songs have been nominated 33 times in the past 30 years, winning 12 of the gold statuettes. This year, the studio has at least four [...]

  • Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    It’s next to impossible for a documentary score to be Oscar-nominated alongside the dozens of fictional narratives entered each year. But it did happen, just once: In 1975, composer Gerald Fried was nominated for his music for “Birds Do It, Bees Do It,” a documentary on the mating habits of animals. Fried, now 91, perhaps [...]

  • Ron Leibman, Jessica Walter'Mary Stuart' Play

    Ron Leibman, Tony-Winning Actor Known for 'Angels in America' and 'Friends,' Dies at 82

    Ron Leibman, an Emmy-winning actor who garnered a Tony for his work in Broadway’s “Angels in America” and played the father of Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green on “Friends,” died on Friday. He was 82. Robert Attermann, CEO of Abrams Artists Agency, confirmed the news to Variety. No further details were immediately available. Leibman, a native [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content