In its first year in business, Newmarket Films demonstrated a relatively large appetite for risk while having an eye for pics that can be both profitable and eclectic.
Sometimes the magic worked, as with Kiwi import “Whale Rider,” and sometimes it didn’t, as with speed-freak drama “Spun.”
The distrib has released six titles since it was launched a year ago at the Toronto Film Festival, but president Bob Berney says he’d like to up that number to eight.
“It all depends on what’s out there at Toronto and Venice,” he says. “We have to work 24 hours a day (when distributing a film), so it has to be something we love.”
With an empty pipeline going forward, Berney hopes to fall in love a lot over the next few months.
However, Newmarket may already have one of next year’s titles if the company decides to re-release “Donnie Darko.” Pic has run in Los Angeles as a midnight show for the last 18 months and found ancillary success as a DVD.
Another way to fill the pipeline: make the movies yourself. Berney says that’s under consideration, too.
“I’d love to work with (‘Whale Rider’ director) Niki Caro,” says Berney, who estimates that her Kiwi coming-of-ager is on track to earn between $15 million and $18 million by the end of its run.
Exec ranks: Bob Berney, prexy; Robert Schwartz, senior VP, distribution and marketing; William Thompson, VP, general sales manager
Recent pickups: “Real Women Have Curves” (joint release with HBO); “Whale Rider,” “Lilya 4-Ever,” “Spun” and “Open Hearts” (Toronto)
Year at B.O.: Top grosser: “Whale Rider” ($10 million-plus); lowest grosser: “Open Hearts” ($127,000)
Kudo watch: Company intends to put his best efforts behind “Whale Rider” and lead Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 13-year-old who was discovered by the same casting agent who found “The Piano” star (and Oscar winner) Anna Paquin.