New distrib Film Arcade hits Sundance

Execs from Ambush, Might launch distrib

The newest distrib on the block at this year’s Sundance is the Film Arcade, launched just before the fest by Ambush Entertainment producers Miranda Bailey and Matthew Leutwyler (“Super”), as well as Andy Bohn and Jason Beck, who just sold their VOD aggregator Might Entertainment to competitor GoDigital.

All four hit Park City this week, planning to make a run at some of the hot titles searching for distribution.

Beck describes the Film Arcade as a low-overhead, “filmmaker-friendly” outfit aiming for four to six features a year, including some (but not all) Ambush productions.

“We always thought it’s tough for these smaller films to make money past their MG (minimum guarantee), so we wanted to have complete control over the films we produce and finance,” Leutwyler explained. “We’re not putting all our productions out through this entity, at least not in the next year or two — we’ll see how things go. It’s a standalone company.”

The distrib will be eyeing potential mid-six to low-seven-figure acquisitions this week. “We have some flexibility [with VOD and other day-and-date release strategies], but we’re going to do everything we can to not shortchange the theatrical experience,” Bohn said. “We’re going to put a lot of effort — and have the financing to do so — to give these movies proper theatrical releases.”

“As a film financier and producer myself, I’ve found that distributors often do what’s right for the distribution company and not for the movies themselves,” said Bailey. “One of the reasons I started The Film Arcade is so we can do right by the films. Not all independent movies need to be played day-and-date. There are some that will thrive with a theatrical release that often get overlooked.”

Once they’re up and running, The Film Arcade hopes to handle a service deal or two in the Roadside Attractions mode. “They treat those service deals as if they’re their own films, and we’d want to act accordingly,” Bohn said.

The team comes with experience on both sides of the business they say will inform their decisions and style as a new distributor.

Beck has done acquisitions for First Look, and while working with Bohn at Might Ent., the pair released about 30 films on VOD, including the Swedish “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy. Bohn said the Film Arcade is now exploring options for output deals.

“Since Miranda and I started the production at Ambush, we’ve always discussed the idea of what would be the next step,” said Leutwyler, who helmed such features as last year’s “Answers to Nothing” and “The River Why.”

“The fact that we have produced so much, especially in this world of under $6-7 million budgets, we’ve dealt with pretty much everyone in town and know how everything works,” he added. “Sometimes distributors don’t spend money in the right places or they overspend, and the overhead of some of them is much bigger than the overhead of what we’re doing. Our filmmakers know they’ll be working with filmmakers and we’ll go the extra mile to do what’s in the best interest of the film, and not perhaps what’s in the best interest of a corporate agenda.”

“Beyond the MG these filmmakers get, they actually participate,” Leutwyler promised. “We’re that company in town where if the movie is successful, you’ll actually see a piece of it.”