×

‘The Farewell’ Producer Anita Gou Values Toronto Festival Spot for ‘Honey Boy’

When Anita Gou launched her production company Kindred Spirit in 2018 the mission was to produce “purpose-driven, cross-cultural, and boundary-pushing content aimed at a global audience.” A year later Gou did just that when Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The mostly subtitled comedic drama starring Awkwafina sparked a Park City bidding war. A24 ultimately nabbed the pic for approximately $6 million. The film broke the box office record set by “Avengers: Endgame” for per-screen average, taking in $351,330 in four theaters when it opened in limited release on July 12. Since then “The Farewell” has earned just under $16 million. Gou is at TIFF with another film she produced — Shia LaBeouf’s “Honey Boy.” Written by and co-starring LaBeouf, “Honey Boy” premiered at Sundance where Amazon acquired it for $5 million.

“Honey Boy” made its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year. It sold to Amazon in February and will be released theatrically on Nov. 8. Why take it to TIFF?

We sat with the film for a while after the Sundance premiere and really kept it close hoping that we could launch it in a proper way so that it could be part of award (season) conversations. So TIFF was the perfect launching point (for the film) going into the fall and then building towards our theatrical premiere.

As a producer who attends both TIFF and Sundance each year, what’s the biggest difference?

TIFF just feels a lot bigger. It has a bigger international presence. I think TIFF has room the smallest independent film and the biggest independent film at the studio level. And for me, who’s always looking for interesting, new filmmakers and even international filmmakers who are looking to do their first English-language film or cross over in some way, it’s a wonderful place to scout talent and take meetings.

It has been reported that a streaming company offered over double what A24 paid for Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell.” Why did you go with the lower offer?

When Lulu started working on “The Farewell” she always had A24 in mind as partners who she ultimately wanted to work with. So there wasn’t really any real question that we were going to go with them. Obviously we did have to really think about it because of what was on the table, but you know premiering the film at Sundance and seeing the effect it had on audiences made us want to be able to do that to its maximum effect.

When picking a project how important is the commerciality of a film?

Commerciality is a very important aspect of how I look at projects and choose projects to get behind and support. My mission is to work with newer filmmakers, but at the same time I absolutely want to do everything I can to make sure that their films get seen by the biggest audience the film deserves.  The way I approach it is to find projects that have the indie sensibility, but also have that breakout potential and that ability to connect with a wider audience.

How do you determine how much of your own personal financing will go into a project?

It depends on the structure of the financing for every project. I very much like to work with partners and I think that building a strong team goes a long way every time. So it’s a very case-by-case situation.

 

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Slovak Artist Juraj Horvath Gives Ji.hlava

    Slovak Artist Juraj Horvath Gives Ji.hlava Film Festival Its Distinctive Look

    The distinctive look and feel of the Czech Republic’s Ji.hlava film festival – fringy, arty, a bit punk via eco-warrior – is down in many ways to one man: Juraj Horvath. The Slovak artist, provocateur and illustrator of children’s books has created what he calls the “visual identity” of the docu fest for 20 years [...]

  • Edgar Ramirez to Star in ‘The

    Edgar Ramirez to Star in ‘The War Has Ended’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Edgar Ramirez, best known for “Carlos” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” will star in the drama “The War Has Ended,” from writer and director Hagar Ben-Asher’s award-winning original script about a man in search of his children. Mister Smith Entertainment will launch international sales at next month’s American Film Market. The film is being [...]

  • Spanish Antitrust Regulator to Probe U.S.

    Spanish Regulator to Probe U.S. Studios Over Possible Anti-Competitive Practices

    Spanish antitrust regulator, the National Commission of Markets and Competition, has launched an 18-month probe into possible anti-competitive practices by the local distribution branches of Hollywood studios Disney, Sony, Warner Bros., Fox, Universal and Paramount, as well as local companies providing digital services and exhibitors. The antitrust body said it was investigating 14 companies “for [...]

  • American Society of Cinematographers Honoring Frederick

    American Society of Cinematographers to Honor Frederick Elmes

    The American Society of Cinematographers will honor Frederic Elmes with a lifetime achievement award. The ASC is also honoring Donald A. Morgan with the career achievement in television award, Bruno Delbonnel with the international award; and Don McCuaig with the presidents awards. The accolades will be presented at the annual ASC awards gala on Jan. [...]

  • 'American Factory,' 'Apollo 11' Nominated for

    'American Factory,' 'Apollo 11' Score International Documentary Award Nominations

    “American Factory,” “Apollo 11,” “For Sama” and “The Edge of Democracy” have scored multiple nominations for the International Documentary Awards. “Advocate,” “Honeyland,” “Midnight Family,” “One Child Nation,” “Sea of Shadows,” and “The Biggest Little Farm” also received nods. The 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards will be held on Dec. 7 at Paramount Studios in Los [...]

  • Joker Movie 2019

    Box Office: How 'Joker' Became Insanely Profitable

    Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” has become a certified box office sensation, earning $744 million in worldwide ticket sales after less than a month in theaters. Making that haul all the sweeter, Warner Bros., the studio behind the R-rated origin story about Batman’s nemesis, spent $62.5 million to finance the film, a fraction of what most comic-book [...]

  • Mackenzie Davis Terminator Dark Fate

    ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Ads placed for the sci-fi action film had an estimated media value of $6.81 million through Sunday for 796 national ad airings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content