The independent film business had a rebound year in 2010 — with “The King’s Speech,” “Black Swan” and “True Grit” garnering plenty of awards season hardware.
But Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman and chief executive of the Weinstein Company, told attendees of TheGrill@Tribeca, TheWrap’s inaugural conference on independent filmmaking, that the independent film business needs to transcend the trophy case.
“We have to build a model that’s beyond Oscar,” Weinstein said at a session moderated by TheWrap editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman. “People say, ‘Harvey only wants an Oscar.’ Harvey wants an Oscar because it makes people go to the movies.” (Photographs by Susan May Tell)
The Oscar-winning “King’s Speech,” which has grossed over $400 million at the box office, was produced for $14 million, Weinstein said.
But the indie business, he said, needs to find success outside of the awards season.
“We have to find a summer model for the independent film business,” Weinstein said. “How do get them to the theater in the summer?”
Weinstein said his strategy in releasing the upcoming “Submarine” and “Our Idiot Brother” during the warmer months is to “counterprogram the ‘Thors’ and ‘Captain Americas.’”
“There is a marketplace — dying for it — but it needs to be the right movie.”
While “True Grit” was made for $40 million — above Weinstein’s $20 million threshold for “independent” — he lauded Paramount for treating it like one. “They took an independent movie, added the studio on top of it, and blew it out,” Weinstein said, adding: “The Coen Brothers — you can’t get a more independent thought than that.”
Weinstein pointed out that “Scary Movie” was made for $14 million, generated $160 million domestically and, eventually, $300 million worldwide, despite critics who said “a black movie will never work overseas.” (The Wayans, he said, told him, “The wrong brothers made the money on that one.”)
Weinstein said he is undecided on the future of the industry’s current hot topic: studios pursuing premium video-on-demand. “Let’s experiment and see,” he said.
“I love going to the movies,” Weinstein added. “If it hurts exhibition, that’s a mistake.”
With the success of “The King’s Speech,” The Weinstein Company is on pace to outpace Miramax earnings, he said. “This is going to be our best year financially,” Weinstein said. “We will outgross the Miramax years by a lot.”
Earlier Friday, Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, and Geoff Gilmore, TFF’s chief creative officer also talked about the challenges in the indie film business.
“The world for independent film has completely changed, yet the issues remain the same,” Gilmore said. “How do you find visibility for this work? How to find audiences? How can we distribute this? The same questions we were asking 30 years ago.”
Rosenthal — who admitted her career as a producer has, for the most part, been within the studio system — said there in hope.