The news that Annapurna, the independent film company run by billionaire heiress Megan Ellison, is having financial problems and is narrowing its ambitions, drives the not-so-new reality of today's film business: to survive, movies must fit. Disney model or Blumhouse.
In other words, they have to be large IP-based franchises (Marvel, Star Wars, etc.) that are distributed, marketed and promoted by a powerful global entertainment conglomerate such as Disney. Or they have to be done at low cost for a specific audience, in the case of Blumhouse, the horror fans, who have a proven track record of actually going to see movies in theaters.
This month A star has been born, which is already rising at the box office, is a rare anomaly. Made for $ 36 million, the film is an old-time big-screen romance (although one with a dedicated fan base thanks to its star, Lady Gaga, and the movie itself, which is the fourth adaptation).
Everything else fits into the risk bet category. In the era of Netflix, when there are more viewing options in the home than ever, those bets rarely work. The only exception is real Indians that become so cheap that they have the possibility of recovering their costs. (Even those that are often distributed by Netflix and Amazon).
But Annapurna has never been that. Despite its AuthorA friendly reputation, which reflects the likes of Ellison, from the first moment the company wanted to have both forms: films of indie sensitivity with non-independent budgets. Vice, the next Dick Cheney movie directed by David O. Russell, cost about 60 million dollars. Looks great! But still.
Another upcoming film based on Roger Ailes and Fox News, is priced at $ 35 million, which is the cost of A star has been born. The films of Ailes are in the sights of Annapurna's problems; The company allegedly took out a completion bonus to complete it and is now buying it from another buyer. Then there was Detroit, the Kathryn Bigelow movie that cost $ 35 million and that Annapurna tripled her staff to 120 to launch independently last summer. (The movie was bombed, raising $ 16.8 million.)
With the family resources of Ellison (his father, Larry Ellison, has a reported value of $ 58 billion), there is no reason to think that Annapurna is sinking in the short term. But in the future, the company will have to adhere more closely to the new reality of Hollywood, no matter how dark it is for lovers of auteur cinema.
A good model is A24, an independent study that has adapted to the times (and has continued to spend little money) by focusing its marketing efforts on smart online campaigns, meme management and smart second-window distribution agreements. with Amazon Prime and DirecTV. . When it comes to film production, A24 keeps budgets under $ 10 million, while risking less-known directors who believe. The formula has paid off with films like the Oscar winner Moonlight, Lady Bird, Y Eighth grade.
Lean companies are usually lean by necessity. As a project of passion for the vanity of an heiress, Annapurna has never had any need incorporated in her DNA: Ellison and her father have already invested $ 200 million in the company. Can you change gears and adapt to a more agile model? Arthouse movie lovers certainly expect it.