Studios give chase to ‘Lola’

Sony Pictures Classics at 20 - The Stories Behind the Movies

Young German producer Stefan Arndt had just finished shooting a crazy low-budget movie about a girl racing through the streets of Berlin when the phone rang in his shabby office. It was Michael Barker, in town and keen to meet.

“He was one of my heroes! We just had a small office in a back yard. We quickly called our directors to come in, bought cake, cleaned up everything,” Arndt remembers. “He came to see us for two hours, just speaking about old movies and film history. It wasn’t a business meeting at all. He didn’t even know we were making ‘Run Lola Run.’ That’s just the way he works.

“He’s the first and still the only one of these bigger names in the business who ever called up like that and came to see us.”

By the time Tom Tykwer’s debut launched at Toronto, it ignited a U.S. bidding war, and that visit was one of the reasons why Arndt was willing to trust Sony Pictures Classics with the movie.

In fact, Arndt and Tykwer arrived late in Toronto because their plane had been diverted to Chicago, where they hopped a flight to Buffalo, N.Y., and grabbed the last rental car to drive across the border. Their film had already screened when they showed up at their budget hotel, where they found the lobby crammed with big-shot buyers.

“We had 2 1/2 days with no sleep, being chased around Toronto,” he says.

In the end, it came down to Miramax vs. SPC, with Harvey Weinstein diverting from a trip to Los Angeles in a bid to seal the deal. But Arndt balked at committing Tykwer to a long production deal at Miramax and chose to go with Barker.

“We knew Michael before, and on that wonderful night when we made our decision, it’s (because) we trusted him.”

But when they took the film to Sundance, Arndt admits to a moment of doubt. “We came down to the breakfast room, and there was Michael Barker and everyone important, all reading the New York Times. Michael showed me a full-page ad they had taken for ‘Run Lola Run,’ and I lost all the blood in my head. I started shouting at Michael, ‘What have you done? You’ve spent more than our entire P&A budget!’

“But it turned out Michael knew about a special edition when an ad cost nearly nothing, and it just happened to come out during Sundance when everyone in the industry would be reading it. He knows every trick — it’s why he’s so incredible at what he does.”

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

More Film


    Shorts Encourage Women to STEAM Careers

    Straight Up Films created the anthology “Power/On” of five shorts focused on encouraging girls in STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math with the arts thrown in) directed by actresses Rosario Dawson, Julie Bowen, Ana Brenda Contreras, Lisa Edelstein, and Nikki Reed. With support from YouTube, the shorts premiered Wednesday at the Google campus in Playa [...]

  • Stefanie Sherk obit

    Stefanie Sherk, Actress and Wife to Demian Bichir, Dies at 43

    Canadian actress and model Stefanie Sherk died on April 20 of an apparent suicide by drowning. She was 43. The Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed the ruling and cause of death. Sherk appeared in the TV show “CSI: Cyber” and the movie “Valentine’s Day.” She also starred in the show “The Bridge” alongside her husband [...]

  • Ron HowardBreakthrough Prize, Arrivals, NASA Ames

    Ron Howard Talks New Luciano Pavarotti Documentary

    If one is an anomaly, two are a coincidence and three are a trend, then Ron Howard might strictly become a music documentarian after “Pavarotti” hits theaters. The documentary about the world-famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti comes on the heels of Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” and “Made in America,” a look at [...]

  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead

    Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Star in Netflix Assassin Thriller 'Kate' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mary Elizabeth Winstead is set to star in the Netflix actioner “Kate,” sources tell Variety. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is helming from a script by Umair Aleem. The story revolves around a female assassin, who, after being poisoned and given less than 24 hours to live, must go on a manhunt through [...]

  • Shannon Hoon

    Blind Melon Frontman's Home Movies Captivate in Tribeca Doc 'All I Can Say'

    For a period of five years, Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon diligently chronicled his own life, videotaping himself with a Hi-8 video camera through every step of his musical journey — starting out in Indiana, through his meteoric rise to alt-rock icon, up to the day of his death in 1995. These captivating moments finally [...]

  • 'The Edge of Democracy' Review: A

    Film Review: 'The Edge of Democracy'

    How the hell did we get here? It’s a question that political liberals are asking themselves in many parts of the world, reeling as they are from a global tilt to the right that has yielded the tumultuous Trump presidency, the ceaseless, squabbling chaos of Brexit and, albeit less prominently in international headlines, Brazil’s submission [...]

  • Brie Larson

    Brie Larson on Diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: 'We Gotta Move Faster'

    While Brie Larson is thrilled over the success of the female-led “Captain Marvel,” the actress wants more diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Larson sat down with Variety’s Marc Malkin for the first episode of Variety and iHeartMedia’s new film podcast, “The Big Ticket.” “I’m happy to be on the forefront of the normalization of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content