Thursday, January 19, 2006



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Can we officially now say that Robert Redford kicks Warren Beatty's ass? It was a parlor game among journos once upon a time to speculate as to who would have the more lasting effect on the film industry. Then, of course, it became a rivalry. Unspoken, but definitely a Cold War.

As Warren Beatty at present demands the perfect lighting for his diminishing head of hair, Redford has created, out of a sleepy Bush red-state a mini-industry all his own. It feeds Hollywood quality foodstuffs. Absent a Gubernatorial run -- which seems entirely likely, if goldenboy West Wing producer Lawrence O'Donnell has anything to say about it -- we will say it, officially: Robert Redford beat Warren Beatty.

If yesterday at the dance was the calm before the storm, today is the hunger. The hunger for acquisitions. USA Today writes:

"Sundance has been a springboard for such hits as March of the Penguins, Reservoir Dogs, Garden State, Sex, Lies, and Videotape and The Blair Witch Project. That is why distributors hunt for under-the-radar movies that could become the next box-office phenomenon.

"At Sundance, the A-list is not where the news is. So this year's low-budget ventures with Jennifer Aniston and Justin Timberlake could be dwarfed by a no-name cast in a movie shot on digital video.

"'The obvious choices everybody already knows. I know who's in them, I know what they're about, maybe the director has come through the office a few times,' says Peter Block, acquisitions president for Lions Gate Films, which picked up Open Water at Sundance in 2004; it went on to take in $30.5 million. 'It's the ones that don't fit in that list that you need to pay attention to.'

"Block, like most big-ticket buyers, stays mum about the movies he's looking to acquire, lest he tip off competitors."

Anthony Kauffman also has an interesting story in the special Sundance issue of Variety on high net worthers funding indie films for the prestige. He writes:

"The fluctuation of independent films may not be a leading economic indicator, but it should be:

"This year's Sundance Dramatic Competition crop is testament to the increasing number of wealthy individuals with cash to burn, not to mention the overall growth business of low-budget movies.

"The rise of the established 'equity investor,' as opposed to dentists, lawyers or family members, has helped contribute to a slew of indie films looking for a home. Sundance experienced a major jump in U.S. submissions for this year's festival, 379 more than 2005.

"'There are more equity investors now than there have been for as long as I've been doing this,' says veteran sales agent John Sloss, a partner in InDigEnt, producer of competition pic 'Puccini for Beginners.'"

Indie film: Its come a long way from the days of maxing out your credit card.

1 comment:

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