In the 10 months that former October Films co-founder Bingham Ray has been at the helm, UA has undergone a period of transition, redefinition and redirection.
Ray has been steadily building up a new team at UA alongside Sara Rose and Danny Rosette, positioning the distrib to carve out a strong niche in the marketplace with a real personality and pulse.
“I’m in my 10th month now and I think we’ve passed through the interim period,” he says. “It’s been a reidentifying year and with years like that there’s going to be some turbulence but also a lot of reinventing and reinvigoration.”
In spite of the transition, UA has had its share of glory. A surprise foreign-lingo Oscar win for “No Man’s Land,” a project Ray inherited and could not capitalize upon at the box office.
“It was a very frustrating experience trying to get audiences to see that film,” explains Ray. “A lot had to do with the subject matter. It met with a huge amount of indifference to the point of inducing deep R.E.M. sleep in most people.”
Ray, however, blames himself for the box office misfire, grading himself a harsh D. “I embraced it fully and completely. The Globe win was sweet, the Oscar win sweeter which was justly deserved but I let the film down in release.”
UA fared better with a rerelease of “The Last Waltz” which grossed over $320,000 and “Jeepers Creepers.” ($37.5 million).
Roman Coppola’s CQ is also still out there fighting a good fight, says Ray, who also inherited “Pumpkin,” “Igby Goes Down” and Hal Hartley’s “No Such Thing.”
The first fruits of his choices will be seen in the upcoming releases of Michael Winterbottom’s homage to the Manchester music scene in “24 Hour Party People,” which bows Aug. 9, a project that began prior to Ray’s arrival but was finished under his tenure, followed by Michael Moore’s controversial documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” to bow Stateside in early October.
Rounding out the year will be Sundance grand prize winner “Personality Velocity,” opening some time pre-Thanksgiving, and Ray’s first highly anticipated inhouse production, “Nicholas Nickelby.”
“It looks like its on a ‘Gosford Park’ track so look for that to shine,” says Ray of the latter pic.
Next year, UA will be pinning its hopes on “Jeepers Creepers 2”; the Robert Duvall starrer “Assassination Tango”; and Matt Dillon’s directorial debut with “City of Ghosts,” due to bow in spring.