Paramount Classics lacks the flash of some other indie distributors: It’s not going to get into bidding wars, its staff remains virtually unchanged from inception and it’s never had a breakout hit.
According to co-presidents Ruth Vitale and David Dinerstein, all of those elements are very much a part of the company’s business plan.
While it certainly would love to have a film that performs on the level of, say, “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (an unrated title that was never an option for the Viacom-owed company), it won’t go out of business if it doesn’t.
“If you’re trying to release 20 films a year, the finished film market becomes difficult,” says Dinerstein. “We only release six to eight films a year.”
The shingle’s domestic grosses have been modest for 2002, but international buys are a saving grace: the Vinnie Jones starrer “Mean Machine,” a British remake of “The Longest Yard,” earned less than $100,000 in America. However, it did take in about $6.7 million in the U.K.
Paramount Classics has high hopes for “Bloody Sunday,” Paul Greengrass’ upcoming documentary-style drama that re-creates the events in January 1972 that lead to the death of 13 demonstrators in Northern Ireland.
The Par Classics business plan isn’t one that sees much change, but the company recently made its first prebuy with Mike Hodges’ “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” which reteams the helmer with his “The Croupier” star, Clive Owen.
The distrib also will lose one of its longtime employees this fall, VP Michael Nash, who is pursuing a career in production. He’ll be replaced with the internal promotion of director Tracy Bing.
Upcoming titles for 2003 include “Savage Soul”; “And Now, Ladies and Gentlemen,” from Claude Lelouch; and Michael Petroni’s “Till Human Voices Wake Us,” starring Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter.