Movie mavens see healthy signs for industry

Future of Film Summit 2011

It’s unlikely that many will look back on the state of the economy in 2011 and affectionately croon, “It was a very good year,” but as Endgame Entertainment CEO Jim Stern prepares to take the stage for the State of the Film Industry panel at the Variety Future of Film Summit, he’s confident about the health of the business.

“But I would’ve been confident about film in the 1930s when there was a depression going on and film was thriving,” Stern says. “I’ve always cast a jaundiced eye when someone says, ‘We’re in a worse quarter than we were last year, therefore the market is going down.’ Well, possibly, but it’s also because the movies aren’t as good. So it’s due more to quality than change in consumer habits.”

The industry got some good news last week when it was reported that the number of spec scripts sold in October — 18 — is the highest monthly tally in two years, and the 86 sold so far this year is more than 2009 and 2010 combined.

“It shows that buyers are loosening their purse strings, but it also means that writers are writing what they want to write, as opposed to what they’re being commissioned to write, which I think will mean a highly quality level of scripts,” says panelist Rick Nicita, Morgan Creek co-chairman and COO.

At the same time, Hollywood has been digesting the economic crisis in Greece, which is threatening to destabilize the entire European Union.

“Several years ago, when there was a big (economic) hiccup, many overseas distributors went bankrupt and movies that were profitable films fell into the red because people weren’t getting paid,” Stern points out. So, today, “when films are financed with a strong point of view of what people are going to get back overseas, it’s a serious concern.”

But the biggest question for panelists might be, with DVD revenues foundering, is there a chance VOD and streaming will be riding to the rescue any time soon?

“I think we’d all love to say video is done and VOD is in,” says panelist David Glasser, COO of the Weinstein Co. “It’s not that way as of yet, but hopefully that’s where we’re headed.”

Pics plug into buzz

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content