Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, is a longtime independent film and TV producer, but she is not one who is wringing her hands over the spate of media M&A that has rocked the industry in recent months.
“Change is good,” Rosenthal tells Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” In a wide-ranging conversation, Rosenthal details the heavy lifting done to bring the Tribeca Film Festival back to live audiences for its 20th anniversary edition which runs June 9-20 in New York. The longtime business partner of Robert De Niro offers her observations on “The Irishman,” two years after its groundbreaking release by Netflix, and the fate of old-fashioned moviegoing.
Rosenthal was optimistic about the changes unveiled earlier this month for WarnerMedia in its tie-up with Discovery. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what (Discovery CEO) David Zaslav is going to be able to do,” she says.
Fundamentally, the consolidation under way will strengthen companies, even those that were already big, in ways that benefit the end game of film and TV production. “I think all of this activity is ultimately going to be good for the business,” she says.
Tribeca Enterprises itself has been through some shifts, as James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems entered the picture for the company in August 2019 as its primary investment backer when James Dolan and MSG bowed out. The segue has been good for Tribeca, she says.
“The way for us to fit into MSG didn’t quite work the way we both wanted it to,” she says, adding that Tribeca continues to work with MSG. Murdoch has been “an extraordinary partner” whose financial support “is allowing us to build out different verticals of our company that we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
As Tribeca Festival staffers scramble to put the finishing touches on outdoor screening sites across New York’s five boroughs, Rosenthal noted the evolution of the theatrical exhibition marketplace in the two years since the release of “The Irishman.”
Netflix’s demand to shorten the exclusive theatrical window for “Irishman” led to strife and a standoff with top theater chains. Today, the film business has been forced by the extraordinary conditions of the pandemic to move in that direction.
“We were still having a fight at that time about what the window was going to be. Netflix wanted six weeks, the theaters wanted three months,” she says. “Today, the theaters would have taken the six weeks. Time has a way of changing people’s minds. God knows no one wanted to go through a global pandemic to change business models, but things happen in strange ways.”
“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.