×

SPC locks in ‘Capote’

Sony Pictures Classics at 20 - The Stories Behind Movies

When Sony Pictures Classics inherited “Capote” from United Artists, which greenlit the project before being taken over by Sony, the movie was just a few weeks away from being locked.

But rather than wading into the edit suite waving their scissors, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard commented on just one tiny detail.

“There was a date we had fudged for narrative expediency,” recalls director Bennett Miller. “It was the release date of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ on an invitation to the premiere. They said to take it out, because film lovers will know. It was Michael who noticed it, because he knows more about the history of movies than any executive working today.”

Barker and Bernard also suggested that Miller should hold a test screening — not for their sake, but for his. “They eliminated the top two boxes, the scores, so that it was a qualitative screening, not a quantitive one. They said it’s for me to learn whatever I could. If it has an effect on the final cut, great, if it doesn’t, fine. In the end, it didn’t change much, but it gave us confidence in what we had.”

When it came to the distribution of the film, Miller was surprised at how widely they exposed it to tastemakers prior to release.

“They screened it like I didn’t know films were screened any more,” he says. “It created a momentum and energy about the film that achieved critical mass by the time the film came out. With their relationships, the manner in which they presented the film, the people they engaged in hosting those screenings, they made the film an event.”

As a result, Miller says, “Within just a few weeks of it coming out, it felt like everybody that you’d want to see the film had seen it.

“In a business where so many survive on a kind of cunning that resorts to dirty tricks and deception, these guys really are unique,” he adds. “They are so honest and transparent and good to their word. They are film scholars and film historians and film lovers — and shrewd business operators as well. If I were to have my druthers, they would be regarded as the model and the ideal for others. Too often you have companies run by ineffectual film lovers, or by sharks who do not share an actual appreciation of cinema. But Tom and Michael have it all.”

SONY PICTURES CLASSICS AT 20
Steady as she grows | Shrewd handling yields real profits | SPC mines foreign gold | Despite illness’ gloom, Bloom integral to company
The Stories Behind the Movies
“Capote” | “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” | “The Fog Of War” | “The Lives of Others” | “Rachel Getting Married” | “Run Lola Run”
The Collaborators
Agustin Almodovar | Lone Scherfig

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • (from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)

    Box Office: 'Hobbs & Shaw' Scores $102 Million Debut in China, Nears $600 Million Globally

    Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” returned to first place on the international box office charts, thanks to a massive $102 million debut in China. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, collected another $120 million overseas, boosting its foreign tally to $441 million. “Hobbs & Shaw” is nearing the $600 million mark [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Rises to No. 1 With $21 Million Debut

    “Angel Has Fallen,” the third chapter in Lionsgate and Millenium’s action franchise starring Gerard Butler, had a stronger opening weekend than expected, collecting $21.25 million during its first three days of release. Those ticket sales were enough to top domestic box office charts, bumping last weekend’s champ, Universal’s comedy “Good Boys,” to second place. Starring [...]

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content