Kevin Goetz’s Screen Engine has become one of Hollywood’s more in-demand research outfits — catering to every major studio, most indie companies and two major TV networks — all in less than a year.
While CEO Goetz isn’t new to the research biz (he’s been doing it for nearly three decades), his shingle is. Considering Goetz faced a serious lawsuit almost immediately after founding Screen Engine (his former employer OTX sued for proprietary information infringement after Goetz left to launch Screen Engine last March), the company has hit the ground running. The lawsuit’s still pending, however.
Screen Engine employs 15 full-time staffers, with an additional 135 part-time, including two consultants, an advanced analytical expert and senior studio adviser.
“As a new company, there’s a certain nimble quality that we have because there isn’t any sort of bureaucracy,” Goetz says.
That newness also has allowed Goetz to make his own rules, at least when it comes to how and when he conducts research.
A staple for Screen Engine has been the company’s willingness to tackle projects early on, serving as adviser on a film’s initial commercial prospects. “Anybody can carry out the back end, but to create actionable recommendations and solutions … is something that I’ve always prided myself on,” Goetz says.
Like the rest of the research players, Screen Engine provides tracking services, customer data and test screenings. But Goetz describes the most successful research firms as not just providing numbers and charts, but companies that understand moviemaking and studio language.
“We are advocates of the studio creating and owning the message and messaging that they initially put out to the world,” Goetz says. “Because that’s the stage for the entire campaign.”
Goetz notes that Screen Engine is getting involved with studios much earlier in the filmmaking process. He says while studios usually start with positioning studies, Screen Engine is brought in earlier “to ascertain the innate interest of a project from the very beginning.
“If we know that the DNA of a movie suggests it will never get there, we’ll be that messenger,” Goetz says.
Going forward, Goetz says his company will continue to function as a four-screen firm, meaning it’ll conduct research for all platforms, including bigscreen, TV, computer and handheld devices. “There’s no other agenda,” Goetz says. “It’s all about trying to make whatever product the best success it can be.”