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Alternative approaches to entertainment distribution/consumption

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  • The Master of Two Worlds
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I don't understand the difference, but the A24 movies are the ones I end up loving. Way more than the "main" ones, anyway.
I'm so many people.


  • The Magic Flight
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I enjoyed this too much not to leave this here.

Alamo Drafthouse launches VerticalVision™ next-gen theater experience.

With backing from studios, #influencers, and acclaimed filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson, Austin-based cinema company unveils the world’s first Vertical Format theater.

“What I love about VerticalVision is just how tight the frame is, allowing you to focus on just the one thing you want the audience to see,” says THERE WILL BE BLOOD director Paul Thomas Anderson. “For too long filmmakers have been saddled with the constraints and extraneous details of widescreen – long live tall screen.”

Anderson is currently developing his first native VerticalVision feature, LONG TALL SALLY, starring Elizabeth Delbecki. The filmmaker says he’s also considering a host of other projects in the format, including JUMPIN’ JACKS, LONGING TO FALL, and HOW HIGH THE SKY.

"When CinemaScope was first developed in the ‘50s, critics claimed it would only be worthwhile for films about snake and trains," says Anderson. "I commend the vision of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in paving the way for the next cinematic frontier."

"Trying to fit in since 2017."


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How Will the Movies (As We Know Them) Survive the Next 10 Years? - The New York Times

Quote from: Jordan Horowitz
I don’t feel particularly optimistic about the traditional theatrical experience, especially for independent films. As more and more streaming services are making features, I think we’ll start to see festivals be the theatrical experience for a lot of these movies. The movie will premiere at Sundance or Toronto, and then premiere on streaming that week or the week after.

Quote from: Joe Russo
When you talk about making character movies like “Cherry” [after four Marvel sequels, the Russos will next direct this mid-budget drama], even we are finding that is becoming increasingly difficult as the months pass — not as the years pass, as the months pass. It is a tough market, even for us coming off “Endgame,” to make a darker, character-driven movie. It’s not what the market was even two years ago.

Quote from: Barry Jenkins
In the same way that social media approximates the experience of being in a community, I think the way we now watch these things — whether on our flat screens or laptops or phones — is also an approximation of what the original foundations of this medium always were. It’s bittersweet. Five years ago, you couldn’t just get on your laptop and find Claire Denis films. Now you can, which is a really awesome thing and better for the world, for sure. But there’s a trade-off.

Quote from: Jessica Chastain
I’ve seen a lot of female filmmakers get opportunities at Netflix and Amazon that they haven’t gotten through the studio system. So I’m very, very happy about the new shape our industry is taking.

Quote from: Scott Stuber
I think the trick is recognizing that there’s a giant global audience and everyone’s taste in L.A. and New York is not necessarily everyone’s taste in France or in South Africa.

Quote from: Kumail Nanjiani
This is very cynical, but I think the standard of quality for people who watch stuff at home is not the same. If you go see “Avengers” in the theater, it better be great, but if you’re just watching stuff at home, it doesn’t matter so much. I don’t want to diss on Netflix too much, because they make amazing stuff, and they’re giving shots to people who would not have been given shots 10 years ago, but I also think Netflix would rather have five things that people kind of like than one thing people really love.

Quote from: Steve Gilula
Take Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room”or Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight”: I do not believe those films would have ever found a significant audience if they had premiered on streaming, because they did not have either the stars or the established directors that could have gotten them attention. I believe there’s still an incredibly vital role that festivals and movie theaters play in giving those films time to be discovered.

Quote from: Kumail Nanjiani
I was at a bar with a friend who directs big movies, and while we were in line for the bathroom, he was saying that movie theaters were going to go away. He was like, “Kids don’t watch movies, they watch YouTube.” Which I thought was crazy. So he goes, “Watch this.” There was a girl in front of us in line, and he said, “Hey, excuse me, what’s your favorite movie?” And she said, “I don’t watch movies.” Just randomly, he picked someone — and she was like 25, she wasn’t a child or anything. We were like, “Well, do any of your friends watch movies?” And she said, “Not really.”

Quote from: Jeffrey Katzenberg
What Quibi [his upcoming streaming service for mobile] is trying to do is get to the next generation of film narrative. The first generation was movies, and they were principally two-hour stories that were designed to be watched in a single sitting in a movie theater. The next generation of film narrative was television, principally designed to be watched in one-hour chapters in front of a television set. I believe the third generation of film narrative will be a merging of those two ideas, which is to tell two-hour stories in chapters that are seven to ten minutes in length. We are actually doing long-form in bite-size.

Quote from: Ava DuVernay
My nieces and nephews don’t really care about produced content in the way that we do traditionally — my niece can sit there and watch IGTV for hours, which is on her phone, on Instagram, and it’s basically little clips of nothing. That’s why, when I hear people being so rigid and so strict about certain forms and presentations, it just reminds me of that “Simpsons” cartoon, “Old Man Yells at Cloud.”

Quote from: Barry Jenkins
The problem is that making films is as expensive as it’s ever been. There’s no big budget-department store, $1.99 white-T-shirt version of making films — every film is some version of a really fancy $300 T-shirt from Calvin Klein. That’s just how much this kind of art takes to make! I don’t know how you offset that cost, and that’s why there’s so much tension between theatrical and digital distribution.

Quote from: Franklin Leonard
If you’re not making movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Black Panther” and “Searching” and “Captain Marvel” and “Wonder Woman” and “Beale Street” and “Moonlight” in 2019, good luck. I challenge anyone to build a company around narratives and stories that are totally driven by the people they’ve historically been driven by, and expect to deliver better for their investors than a company who has a more representative portrayal of the world in which we live.

Quote from: Franklin Leonard
What happens when you have a generation with the sort of education that we had long deified people like Quentin Tarantino for having because they worked in a video store, or lived close to a movie theater where indie films were playing? For a very long time, Hollywood functioned as a choke point. Now that people have access to that education, paired with the shifts in the industry that are opening up more opportunities, I think we are on the brink of a remarkable period in film and television that’s going to be unlike anything we’ve seen before.


  • The Master of Two Worlds
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What did Franklin Leonard smoke?
I'm so many people.


  • Child of Myth
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The fact that he can easily list every movie that proves his point kinda disproves his point.
That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.


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From the official site:



New UK distributor ANTI-WORLDS sees a collaboration between Andy Starke, Producer and co-owner of Rook Films, Powerhouse Films’ Sam Dunn and John Morrissey (founders of the INDICATOR Blu-ray label), Creative Director of Manchester’s HOME cinema Jason Wood and Publicist Zoe Flower. The company has announced its first films for 2019 seeing the UK premiere releases of Richard Kovitch’s PENNY SLINGER – OUT OF THE SHADOWS, Aaron Schimberg’s CHAINED FOR LIFE, Isabella Ekloff’s HOLIDAY and Corneliu Porumboiu’s Infinite Football.

ANTI-WORLDS will also produce and collaborate on original feature films. First up will be the latest film by Ben Rivers & Anocha Suwichakornpong – IN THE HOLOCENE, (currently in post production) followed by a new feature by writer / director Peter Strickland.

Andy Starke says of the venture – “It’s great to be able to start to release films that excite us all. We are all huge film fans and have for a long time wanted to find a way to bring together production and distribution. Having spent many years working on our own and other people’s films – we wanted to create a distribution network where the filmmakers collaborated very closely with the distributors allowing both parties to take advantage of the new cinema landscape and viewing methods. Our hope is to bring a slate of wild, entertaining, exciting and provocative films to the UK.”


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Annapurna Bailout By Larry Ellison Likely As Chapter 11 Looms For Megan Ellison’s Oscar-Winning Studio
By Dominic Patten, Mike Fleming Jr
August 7, 2019 1:50pm

UPDATED EXCLUSIVE with Megan Ellison memo to staff: A showdown that has lenders on one side of the table, with Annapurna’s Megan Ellison and her father and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison on the other, is about to take place, and it will decide whether Annapurna continues as a taste-making studio or a Chapter 11 casualty.

According to multiple sources, Annapurna has burned through much of the $350 million credit facility the company secured in fall 2017. Those sources said Annapurna has either defaulted or is about to default on that debt. A deadline has been set by lenders for this week to come to a solution.

The syndicate of senior lenders is considering putting Annapurna into bankruptcy, sources said. That is the usual course of action when entities like The Weinstein Company or Relativity lost the confidence of banks and don’t have the receivables to pay back them back.

But this case isn’t ordinary because it is Larry Ellison, which is why the banks have kept this situation quiet. Deadline hears that the banks expected him to step in and clean up the mess. “This is like a rounding error for him,” said a source. The talks haven’t gone the way the banks expected though, because Ellison is driving extremely hard terms, based on the relationship he has with several of the lenders.

And so extensive preparations have been put into place for Annapurna to file for Chapter 11 in either Delaware or California if the elder Ellison doesn’t provide a Hail Mary for his daughter and her besieged company. This could mean all the drama amounts to a hiccup for Annapurna, or something far more serious.

A spokeswoman for Annapurna issued the following statement: “The Ellison family is in negotiations to restructure their deals with the banks. They remain in full support of the company and are dedicated to Annapurna’s future.”

Megan Ellison also sent a memo to staff today addressing the situation.

“Restructuring deals with financial institutions is not uncommon, yet the process is usually handled without a spotlight on it,” she wrote (read the memo in full below). “Fortunately/ unfortunately, people like to write about me and my family. That said, it is of tremendous importance to me that you all know we are as committed as ever to this company and are in full support of our future.”

Ellison, reportedly the fourth-richest person in America and the No. 7 richest individual person in the world with a fortune estimated at $70 billion, has his own revolving credit facility with two of the key banks that are part of the Annapurna credit facility. That is certainly reason for those banks to not be as aggressive as they would normally be, for fear of alienating him.

Larry Ellison has a $1 billion line with JP Morgan and another with Wells Fargo, two of the banks with significant hold positions in the senior facility on Annapurna. Known as a hard-nosed businessman, Larry Ellison has been negotiating to buy her debt at approximately 80 cents on the dollar, which may be drawndown on his own credit line with those two banks, sources said. It is not a great prospect for those banks, to take a haircut on what they are owed, and then finance the result. But a bankruptcy alternative might only yield them 50 cents or 60 cents on the dollar.

Bankruptcy would be an embarrassment for Megan Ellison, and several sources familiar with the issues felt her father wouldn’t allow that. Annapurna secured in fall 2017 a $350 million senior credit facility, with J.P. Morgan serving as administrative agent and co-lead arranger with Comerica Bank. Banks in the funding lineup when it was announced were City National Bank, First Republic Bank, HSBC, MUFG Union Bank, SunTrust Bank and Wells Fargo.

Finance sources said the bankers feel betrayed: while Larry Ellison’s family office was portrayed as being very involved in the marketing documents sent to the banks and indicated the office was behind his daughter’s venture, there was no commitment from Larry Ellison in the final documents. That gives the Oracle co-founder a measure of leverage, beyond him being a big customer for major lenders now and in the future. Putting in bankruptcy the company founded by the daughter of one of the wealthiest men on the planet would involve the banks’ CEOs and Risk Committee approval, something most bankers involved think might be political suicide for them.

How did things go so awry for Annapurna?

After establishing herself as a taste-making producer-financier of films like Zero Dark Thirty, American Hustle and The Master, Annapurna expanded into a full-fledged studio. It has a marketing and distribution operation that is costly, but whose costs are now shared through a joint venture with MGM, and this includes domestic distribution and marketing of the James Bond 25 film. Annapurna set a streaming deal with Hulu and has Sue Naegle building out a television division, with a theater division and another division for interactive IP also part of the company. When tastemaking producer Plan B’s deal expired at Paramount, Annapurna became home to the company behind Annapurna’s Vice and If Beale Street Could Talk and such Oscar-winning films as as Moonlight, The Big Short and 12 Years a Slave.

But not enough has gone right, since the company came out of the gate last summer with Detroit. The drama, directed by Oscar-winning Zero Dark Thirty helmer Kathryn Bigelow, depicted the blatant police brutality that occurred at the Algiers motel during the riots of 1967. The film opened early August, usually the domain of popcorn films, but corresponding to the 50th anniversary of the event. The pic cost $34 million and grossed only $16 million domestic and $24 million worldwide. Other films have been critical darlings but cost too much, and there wasn’t a breakout commercial hit.

That included the Adam McKay-directed Vice and the Barry Jenkins-directed If Beale Street Could Talk, which got 11 Oscar nominations between them. But Vice had a reported budget of $60 million and a worldwide gross of $78 million. Beale Street grossed only $15 million domestic and another $5 million worldwide, on a reported budget of $12 million. The Nicole Kidman-starrer Destroyer grossed $1.5 million domestic and another $4 million worldwide on a reported $9 million budget.

The company had a bright spot in Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart, but for all its critical acclaim even that film had limited upside, a $24 million worldwide gross so far on a $6 million budget. Annapurna on August 16 releases the Richard Linklater-directed Where’d You Go Bernadette, starring Cate Blanchett.

The company’s expansion has seen Annapurna run through several hundred millions of dollars. A course correction occurred a year ago, when Chelsea Barnard exited as president of film and the company jettisoned two films: the Jennifer Lopez-starrer Hustlers (which was picked up by STX and accepted into the upcoming Toronto Film Festival) and a film about Fox News founder Roger Ailes, which Jay Roach directed, that BRON Studios picked up. This came about after Annapurna president Marc Weinstock left shortly before this drama, and wasn’t replaced.

It was speculated that Larry Ellison and his team stepped in and prompted those changes, out of concern his daughter wasn’t hands-on enough in the management of a company that has always relied on his money.

Larry Ellison is an investor in son David Ellison’s Skydance venture, but his focus has been on commercial tentpole fare that has included co-financing the Mission: Impossible films, as well as the upcoming Top Gun sequel with Tom Cruise.

While that company drew quizzical glances when it set former Pixar founder John Lassiter to run its animation division, the road has been a smoother one than Annapurna experienced, shooting at the elusive moving narrow target of director-driven tastemaker fare. Besides Top Gun: Maverick, Skydance is a partner in the Ang Lee-directed Will Smith-starrer Gemini Man and Terminator: Dark Fate. The latter, directed by original Deadpool helmer Tim Miller, brings back for the first time creator James Cameron, who hasn’t been involved with a Terminator film beyond the first two classics that he directed. Skydance was part of a previous panned Terminator: Genisys installment, but even that $155 million film grossed $440 million worldwide. Not every film has worked — Life and Geostorm didn’t — but much has worked and the television division has been particularly strong.

Ironically, it was Megan Ellison who had the foresight to acquire the Terminator rights out of the Carolco library when that company went bankrupt, for around $20 million. It didn’t fit the kind of movies she wanted to make, and she sold those rights to her brother, David. It looks like the finale might be a winner for Paramount and Skydance.

Meanwhile, Annapurna’s fate will be decided shortly by the banks and the Ellisons. Some who know her suspect that when Megan Ellison is no longer exclusive to Annapurna beginning early next year, she might well go back to her previous practice of funding and producing taste-maker fare, and placing each film at whatever studio feels best for the pictures.

Here’s Megan Ellison’s memo:

Dear AP Team,

I got word this morning that there are some rumblings around town about our current status with the banks and that a story is likely to hit the press at some point today.

Restructuring deals with financial institutions is not uncommon, yet the process is usually handled without a spotlight on it. Fortunately/unfortunately, people like to write about me and my family.

That said, it is of tremendous importance to me that you all know we are as committed as ever to this company and are in full support of our future.

Regardless of whatever comes out in the press, the truth is that we are well on our continued path towards success. There will always be speculation, misinformation and personal jabs in the press – that’s part of the business.

But know, none of that matters to me. What does is your sense of security and protecting the special community and culture at Annapurna. I believe in what we make and have no intention of stopping any time soon.

We have a lot of exciting things on the horizon and I have no doubt all of our hard work will continue to show Annapurna’s unique and powerful place in this industry.

If you have any questions or want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out.



  • The Magic Flight
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Selling LA’s Laemmle Theatres Could Mean Specialty Market Disruption: 6 Possible Buyers

Candidates include Amazon, Netflix, and Landmark, and a new owner's priorities could impact the future of specialty distribution.

Tom Brueggemann

The Laemmle Theatres still take newspaper ads, which proclaim its slogan: “Not
Afraid of Subtitles.” A family-owned theater circuit that operates 42 screens in nine
Los Angeles locations, it’s maintained a commitment to specialized film for decades.
However, sources confirm that the circuit is now for sale, and potential buyers have
been quietly examining its financials for some time. (A Laemmle representative did not
respond to a request for comment.) 

A Laemmle sale would be meaningful on the basis of history alone; the company was
founded in 1938 by Max and Kurt Laemmle, cousins of Universal Studios founder Carl
Laemmle. Their theaters remain a mainstay of specialized exhibition in Los Angeles,
where they provide the top platform for foreign-language films and for awards-
qualifying documentary engagements year round. They’re also a major source of
revenue for smaller distributors. If a company without the same programming interests
acquired the Laemmle chain, it could have tremendous impact on the specialized
exhibition ecosystem. 

Industry sources point to a handful of potential suitors, none of which include the three
major national circuits (AMC, Regal, Cinemark). These include the Los Angeles-based
Landmark Theatres, the leading national specialized chain; Ventura, Calif.-based
Regency Theaters, with theaters in four states; New York-based City Cinemas;
streaming giants Netflix and Amazon; and Mexico-based luxury chain Cinepolis.
But who will buy? Specialized theater grosses face decline, the market for subtitled
films is particularly challenged, and these theaters face competition from larger chains
that play top films like “The Farewell.” Sources say that Laemmle owns most of its
locations, and would prefer selling to a single buyer. 

IndieWire spoke with multiple sources in exhibition and distribution to create a
portrait of who might buy the Laemmle chain, and why (or, as is often the case, why

Landmark Theatres
The dominant player in North America, it’s the go-to suitor whenever any specialized
theater comes up for sale. Most recently, however, Landmark was for sale itself: Last
December, New York real estate mogul Charles Cohen bought its 56 theaters, which
contain 268 screens in 27 markets. That may leave little appetite for another
acquisition, particularly since Landmark already works closely with the distributors
that service Laemmle. 

The Royal is to Los Angeles what the Lincoln Plaza Theater was for New York, but it
isn’t really competition for The Landmark in West Los Angeles, which is Landmark’s
centerpiece LA theater. That prime theater rarely shows subtitled films — but Cohen
also owns Cohen Media, which primarily acquires foreign-language titles. Cohen’s
first-run films usually open at the Royal; if Cohen doesn’t buy it, who would? There’s
no guarantee that a future owner would maintain the same policy, or even keep the
property as a theater.

Reading Cinemas
This New York-based exhibitor operates theaters in several countries under multiple
brands. In North America, this includes City Cinemas (a chain that includes the Paris,
which is expected to close soon ) and Angelika Film Centers in New York, as well as
several studio-release multiplexes under the Reading brand, primarily in California.
For a growing and dynamic chain, Laemmle could seem like a good opportunity to
expand. Reading already has expertise and contacts for both specialized and
mainstream films, it’s familiar with platform runs of subtitled films, and it understands
the niceties of operating high-profile locations under the industry microscope.
Like Landmark, though, it’s questionable whether the strategic benefit would justify
the expense and risk.

Just as when Landmark was for sale, the Netflix name has come up multiple times as a
potential Laemmle buyer. Forging a theatrical presence is critical for the handful of
Netflix films that seek awards consideration, and there’s a lot of value in a base of
established, upscale-audience theaters that count many Academy members as regular
patrons. Also, as a company with an elevated presence in documentaries, Netflix
theaters could offer filmmakers a guaranteed presence in a key market.
That said: If Netflix wanted to accomplish this without the bother of purchasing
theaters, it could be a silent partner for another buyer. Banks would welcome the
financing guarantee of Netflix making a multi-year commitment to rent screens at
multiple theaters. 

Netflix has had a national deal with the 16-location luxury theater chain IPIC, which
filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. That may make finding another option more

Amazon Studios has a distribution arm that’s seen several theatrical successes (and
failures), but it seems to be transitioning to a business model that allows faster
streaming availability for some films. While Amazon and Netflix share many business
concerns, some observers believe that Amazon might have greater interest in buying a
nationwide circuit that could also house Amazon Hubs.

The Mexico-based international exhibition giant has 26 theaters in seven states, with
several in California. Well financed and primed to expand, it specializes in luxury,
amenity-laden theaters in upscale areas. It just acquired the two-city, five-theater Texas
circuit Moviehouse & Eatery, and Laemmle locations could serve as a starting point
for transitions into the Cinepolis model. However, that vision would almost certainly
exclude Laemmle’s traditional specialized programming. It would also face some stiff
competition from Arclight. 

Perhaps the best fit could be this chain with about 165 screens in 29 locations, mostly
in Southern California. The circuit is a hodgepdge of acquisitions that include
Westwood’s Village and the Bruin (currently featured in “Once Upon a Time in
Hollywood”) as well as a number of mid-sized complexes in upscale and/or older-
audience areas similar to Laemmle’s. These offer a mix of programming, with
specialized at some locations. The company’s film buyers include veterans with an
interest in independent film.

Acquiring Laemmle would give Regency greater local and national prominence. This
could be the one buyer with the most to gain while maintaining Laemmle’s role as a
specialized exhibitor.
"Trying to fit in since 2017."