×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

AFM: Digital Platforms Are Shaking Global Film Finance

Netflix and Amazon are not only reshaping consumer viewing habits they are changing the balance of power in film finance. And as they increasingly overlap, the digital platforms may be forcing the film industry to refocus on quality.

“Video was the big driver (of film finance) in the 1990s. Now, with the Netflix-Amazon model, it is about subscriber retention. There are still pre-sales, soft money. But Amazon and Netflix are now a viable finance model for independent film makers,” said Myles Nestel co-founder and partner of The Solution Entertainment Group. He was speaking at a film finance conference at the American Film Market.

“The biggest problem right now is the blurred lines between TV and film, that’s making it difficult for movies, it’s harder getting people off the couch,” said David Glasser, president and COO of The Weinstein Company. “Today’s market more than ever needs high quality. For theatrical the bar is much higher right now.”

“Overseas buyers are looking for quality, something special. That’s because they too are competing against Amazon and Netflix. That’s why (The Weinstein Company) have cut our output to 8-10 movies per year,” said Glasser.

Popular on Variety

“(Hollywood) studios want high quality, high impact mid- and low-budget movies, in addition to their tentpoles. So independents are competing directly with the studios. There is lots of overlap between studios, independents and digital platforms,” said CAA’s head of film finance Micah Green. “The good news is, if you (as an independent) are proactive in packaging quality projects you have lots of options.”

TSG’s Nestel said that international distributors need to learn some tricks from the digital players. “Foreign buyers are still reactive to the market. Netflix as a global buyer is looking forward to the stars of tomorrow. To survive, foreign buyers need to be proactive in terms of their talent choices,” he said.

Providing a useful summary for indies, Nestel said: “The pre-sales market is softer (than a few years ago.) You need to leverage (sales) with gap finance and then with mezzanine finance, that means more aggressive lending against unsold territories. There is less pre-sale and more leveraged debt. There has never been so much money available, but never so much emphasis on quality.”

“(Similarly,) the best equity financiers are probably not roaming the halls of the AFM looking for product,” said Green. “The best have grown into sophisticated movie companies such as Alcon or Annapurna.”

 

More Film

  • Richard Jewell Olivia Wilde

    'Richard Jewell': Kathy Scruggs' Roommate, Family Angered by Journalist's Portrayal

    Penny Furr was Kathy Scruggs’ roommate when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter got a major scoop involving the investigation into the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Scruggs had discovered that Richard Jewell, the security guard who had evacuated the area before the bomb exploded, saving dozens of lives in the process, was a suspect in the attack. [...]

  • Alexandre Desplat

    Alexandre Desplat Combines Mozart and Bowie for Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women' Score

    There have been multiple film and TV versions of “Little Women.” But composer Alexandre Desplat and writer-director Greta Gerwig had a non-traditional idea for Sony’s 2019 version: “We wanted the music to be a duet of Mozart and Bowie,” Desplat laughs. There are no rock music touches in the score, but there is a modern [...]

  • Clarence Thomas

    Film News Roundup: Clarence Thomas Documentary to Get Theatrical Release

    In today’s film news roundup, a Clarence Thomas documentary and “Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always” are getting theatrical releases, and Lionsgate is developing a Rabbids movie. RELEASE DATES Manifold Productions has slated “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” to open in theaters nationwide on Jan. 31, Variety has learned exclusively. The documentary about the [...]

  • Danny Aiello Do the Right Thing

    Danny Aiello: Spike Lee, Mia Farrow, Cher and More Remember ‘Do the Right Thing’ Actor

    Following the news that character actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night, friends and peers of the “Moonstruck” actor shared their remembrances via social media. Aiello — whose body of work included Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” “The Godfather Part II” and Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” music [...]

  • Willem Dafoe The Lighthouse

    Willem Dafoe on Early Film Roles, Working With Robert Eggers on 'The Lighthouse'

    A four-time Academy Award nominee, Willem Dafoe developed his cinematic charisma — seen in films like “The Florida Project” and “At Eternity’s Gate” — in his early career in theater. After studying drama at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dafoe moved to New York in 1976 and joined what would eventually become The Wooster Group. His [...]

  • Theodore Shapiro Music Composer

    How Music Illustrates the Shifting Dynamics in 'Bombshell'

    What stands out about Theodore Shapiro’s score for “Bombshell” is that the music isn’t frantic despite being set in a fast-paced environment — Roger Ailes’ newsroom at Fox News. Instead, the score straddles two worlds: that of Ailes and that of the women who worked for him.  “[Director] Jay [Roach] and I talked about finding [...]

  • Just Mercy Movie

    How Period and Real-Life Subjects Informed Costume Designs for 'Just Mercy'

    When Francine Jamison-Tanchuck signed on as the costume designer for “Just Mercy,” the true story of defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan) and his fight to overturn the murder conviction of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), she was drawn to the prospect of depicting real-life characters through her work.  “It can sometimes be more [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content