×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film auteurs find their champions

Leadership award: Michael Barker and Tom Bernard

Over the past 25 years, independent film companies have come and gone, but the partnership of Michael Barker and Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics (and before that UA and Orion) has never faltered, resulting in an enduring library of quality titles from filmmakers as varied as Francois Truffaut, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Louis Malle and, more recently, Wong Kar Wai, Zhang Yimou and Pedro Almodovar, with whom they’ve partnered eight times, including this year’s Oscar entry from Spain, “Volver.”

The key to their success, says Barker, is two minds, one objective. “This is what Tom and I have always wanted to do (both started booking films in college), to release auteur-driven films to the widest possible audience.”

Not every film has reached the $100 million-plus heights of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” but even last year’s “Capote” was able to command a gross of about $30 million through a careful platform-release campaign. And even if some films don’t achieve gross potential, they often have a long shelf life on DVD and other ancillary media.

As to who does what, it depends on the movie, Bernard observes. Both are capable of handling the marketing and distribution aspects of a particular film. “But each movie is different, like a political campaign, and we try to come up with an entirely new strategy every time,” he says.

In the case of a movie like “SLC Punk,” it was Bernard who led the charge, since Barker was not necessarily a fan of punk music. Barker busied himself with coming up with a clever and inventive marketing campaign for the film, and the result was that the 1998 release is a strong library title, still generating healthy DVD sales to this day.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 21 Bridges

    Film Review: Chadwick Boseman in '21 Bridges'

    For those who discovered Chadwick Boseman in the role of “Black Panther,” it’s about time the actor showed audiences what else he’s capable of. Sure, Boseman was back on the big screen a few months later in “Avengers: Infinity War” — but Marvel obviously underestimated his potential, giving Boseman far too little to do, then [...]

  • Mexican Writer Diego Osorno Speaks to

    Diego Osorno on ‘1994,’ Netflix’s Doc Build in Mexico

    LOS CABOS  —  Netflix is proving a boon to documentary creation in Mexico. That boon has not yet yielded a fully-fledged boom. The U.S. streaming giant has just released the first results of  its documentary drive. The build in cinematic standard non-fiction works in, however, palpable, the biggest case in point to date, Diego Osorno’s [...]

  • Agnes GodardPress Conference for New Currents

    Los Cabos Panel Homes in on the Female Gaze

    Female cinematographers are still a relatively rare breed in Latin America, and in the rest of the world for that matter. At Los Cabos, three femme cinematographers weighed in on the challenges and rewards of their chosen profession. The panel was composed of Mexico-based Uruguayan Maria Secco whose credits include the acclaimed “La Jaula de [...]

  • Roman Polanski's 'An Officer and a

    'An Officer and a Spy' Leads French Box Office Despite Roman Polanski Controversy

    Roman Polanski’s latest film, “An Officer and a Spy,” is leading the French box office after its opening weekend and fifth day out in theaters despite new sexual-assault accusations against the director and truncated promotion for the film. Released by Gaumont last Wednesday across 545 screens, “An Officer and a Spy” has grossed an estimated [...]

  • Florence Pugh and Beanie Feldstein

    Florence Pugh Calls Marvel's 'Black Widow' Movie Raw, Painful but Beautiful

    Florence Pugh just wrapped shooting on Marvel’s standalone film “Black Widow” starring Avenger Scarlett Johansson. “It was one of the most bizarre, nuts, extravaganza experiences,” the “Little Women” star told “Booksmart’s” Beanie Feldstein in conversation for Variety’s “Actors on Actors.” “I just finished on it about three weeks ago. Landed the role in March, April, [...]

  • Luis Javier Henaine

    Panorama Global Announces ‘Desaparecer del todo,’ ‘Moonwalker (EXCLUSIVE)

    Headed by Alberto Müffelmann and Gerardo Gatica, Mexican indie production house Panorama Global has boarded Luis Javier Henaine’s feature “Desaparecer del todo,” a Moonlight Pictures production co-produced with Pablo Zimbron’s Varios Lobos. The supernatural thriller, based on true events, explores witchcraft in Mexico through the eyes of a tabloid crime photographer. Varios Lobos and Panorama [...]

  • Moonheart Entertainment Scores Investment From Malini

    Moonheart Entertainment Scores Investment From Saba Industries Group Owner (EXCLUSIVE)

    Malini Saba, owner of Saba Industries Group, has made a key investment in Moonheart Entertainment, the newly launched gaming, television film, and media company that is focused on providing content for family audiences. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Saba, whose company is a privately-held, manufacturer and global exporter of rice and other [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content