May 15th, 2009

light fantastic

Me and Orson Welles finds an outlet in the UK

CinemaNX, who helped fund the production of Me and Orson Welles, has decided to try a new tack in getting indie films out there. Instead of trying to sell distribution rights of their movies to an already established distribution company that can handle marketing and all other aspects of dissemination, they will cut out the middle man and go straight to the theaters that show the movies.

The first film they are doing this with is Me and Orson Welles which will be shown at Vue screens in the UK. No date was given, but I would guess they are still aiming for October as we last heard.

I am really curious to see if this new business model they are trying will work and if it will be the future of independent film distribution. The indie film market is in pretty bad shape right now. Many indie distributors have gone out of business because of the economy. And also, because of how expensive it is to market even small films, many never make it out of the festival circuit. This almost happened to Slumdog Millionaire. Can you imagine?

Theater owners often make little profit in actual ticket sales (as opposed to concession sales) so they may be open to this plan if it increases their profit substantially. The burden of marketing is still a challenge though and I'm curious to see how they overcome that.

Maybe it is time to try something new like this. Even leaving Zac Efron out of this, the fact that a Richard Linklater film can't pick up distribution is pretty disgraceful.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt said in his Esquire interview something like now is a time where people can be more creative and we shouldn't go see or put up with shitty big-budget movies (though, side note, should he really have said that with GI Joe coming out so soon? Maybe a bit hypocritical).

He's right in a way that now anyone can pick up a camera and have instant distribution via youtube. But there is so much more to a movie when you see it in the cinema versus seeing it in a 480 by 295 pixel rectangle on a computer screen. It depends on your goal and, for a lot of movies, they deserve to be seen on a big-screen.

Anyway, I have hope for this. And I have hope that maybe more news on US distribution will come out this week at Cannes. Fingers crossed.

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ETA: Variety's article on this is here.

Also I thought I'd catch up on a few reviews/accounts of the SXSW showing of Me and Orson Welles and post them here.

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Also there is this story about Linklater being awarded Maverick of the Year award and showing MAOW at the Woodstock Film Festival:

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light fantastic

Death and Life not filming in Massachusetts?

Previously it had been reported in the Boston Herald that The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud would be filming in Marblehead, Massachusetts where the novel was set:

Come July Zac Efron will be in Marblehead if the stars align, making his first movie since bowing out of Paramount Pictures’ “Footloose” remake. The 21-year-old phenom whose “17 Again” opens naturally enough on the 17th surprised the industry by bailing on the Efron-centric “Footloose,” a musical which had been tailored primarily as his showcase. He wanted to do “something different,” he told me this past Sunday at L.A.’s Four Seasons hotel. Burr Steers, his “17 Again” helmer, will again direct Efron in an adaptation of the novel “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.” “It takes place in Marblehead and we hope to film there this July,” Steers, who is a nephew of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and a former actor, told me of the story about a young man traumatized by a death. “Is it like Timothy Hutton in ‘Ordinary People’?” I asked. “A bit,” he said, adding “There are ghosts and it is a demanding role, perfect for Zac.”

However, now The Daily Item paper out of Lynn, Massachusetts is reporting that Universal has opted to film in Vancouver, BC.

Zac Efron, heartthrob star of "High School Musical" 1, 2 and 3 and "17 Again," won't be coming to Marblehead anytime soon.

Ephron [sic] has been mentioned for the lead role in the movie version of Ben Sherwood's novel "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," which takes place in Marblehead.

Charlie is the caretaker at Waterside Cemetery, haunted by the ghost of his younger brother as he tries desperately to save the life of his sailor girlfriend. The book, Sherwood's second novel, has been praised for tackling themes of death, love and forgiveness and rumors have been flying about the filming all winter.

Selectman William Woodfin broke the sad news Wednesday.

"They're not coming to Marblehead to make the film," he said. Referring to a lot of discussion in Hollywood about the artistic integrity of the project and the current state of the economy, Woodfin said the final decision was to film in Vancouver. Vancouver is on the Pacific Coast in British Columbia, about as far from Marblehead as the filmmakers can get.

"Universal Pictures looked at the bottom line and said it's not going to happen," Woodfin summed up. "Vancouver is not going to look like Marblehead."

"Given the state of the economy Universal should have stayed here," said Selectman Judy Jacobi.

Town Administrator Tony Sasso credited Woodfin with a Herculean telephone effort on behalf of Marblehead as a film location. In fact, when asked Thursday who was going to star in the film Sasso said, "Bill Woodfin."


I'm not at all surprised. Vancouver is a lot cheaper (by far I'm sure), has a much more established film industry and is probably easier to access. The downside to access is, of course, the privacy Zac would have gained in Marblehead will be completely lacking in Vancouver.

If they are filming in the summer it won't be too rainy. There are a few places slightly north of Vancouver that might work well enough as Marblehead, though on the whole I don't think there is any real substitute for Marblehead with its many colonial structures. In fact, I wonder if they'll just change the story to be set around Seattle or something. It would eliminate the need for an accent, sailing is popular there too, and the Mariners work just as well as a baseball team as the Red Sox (though with admittedly less history).

Ahh, well, wait and see, as usual.

ETA: I've been meaning to mention also that the project is currently listed on imdb here under Untitled Burr Steers Project.