Byron Allen Seeks Love for Independent Movie Studios at CinemaCon

Media mogul Byron Allen made a strong pitch to the nation’s theater owners Wednesday to support the independent movie studios — such as his own Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures.

Allen appeared a year after ESMP launched with the shark thriller “47 Meters Down,” which grossed an impressive $44 million domestically last year. He had bought the movie months earlier from Bob Weinstein at his Malibu beach house for $3 million after becoming convinced that shark movies always perform well.

“What we did with ’47 Meters Down,’ we need to do 100 times over,” Allen told attendees at a breakfast event at CinemaCon at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Allen, best known as a producer of syndicated TV programming, established ESMP through the 2015 purchase of Freestyle Releasing. He said Wednesday that ESMP is aiming to fill the niche of releasing mid-budget films that the Big Six studios have become less likely to handle.

“Our vision is the same as in TV — find a need and fill it,” he said. “Studios are not interested in $30 million movies.”

He also said that he opposed any shortening of the time between theatrical and home video release and drew applause after saying, “I don’t like the whispers and the conversations from studios who want to reduce your window. That’s unacceptable and I’m here to fight for it and defend it. Let’s not talk 90 days, how about 120 days?”

Allen said that ESMP was able to generate solid performance from Christian Bale’s western “Hostiles,” which has grossed nearly $30 million, by focusing on the flyover states in the middle of the country. Its historical drama “Chappaquiddick” has hit nearly $15 million.

ESMP also screened footage from the upcoming Keanu Reeves sci-fier “Replicas,” which opens Aug. 24.

Allen recently bought the Weather Channel for $300 million.


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