Calibrating film market demand is tricky. Rights-buying patterns tend to mirror the prevailing economic conditions and current audience leanings in any given distribution territory – and yet we all know how quickly media climates can change in those same markets by the time projects are produced and ready for release there. Nonetheless, there are some vital signs worth monitoring, if only as a telling indicator of where industry money is now flowing. One such gauge is Hollywood script sales.
Every month, Jason Scoggins and Cindy Kaplan do just that with their Spec Market Scorecard. While always fascinating, their recent May stats fairly leap off the page. Consider this: despite a pronounced 24% drop in new material on the market this year, there has been a paradoxical 10% leap in spec sales. But if you think this script-buying spurt reflects a renewed Hollywood appetite for new film ideas, then think again.
“There’s a big, fat elephant in the room,” note Jason and Cindy. “With two exceptions (Fox and Universal), the studios and their labels simply aren’t buying spec scripts or pitches at anywhere near the velocity of years past.”
Fortunately, at least for those of us in the independent film financing arena, a healthy number of non-studio buyers have more than stepped into that buying gap, including Preferred Content, RadioactiveGiant and Voltage Pictures. Between them, these three Slated-listed companies have bought as many specs in 2013 as Columbia Pictures, Disney and Warner Bros combined.
What a banner year this has been already for the San Francisco Film Society and its new executive director Ted Hope. Two beneficiaries of SFFS filmmaking grants – FRUITVALE STATION and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD – have now won back-to-back jury prizes at the Sundance Film Festival, not to mention four Oscar nominations. And now SFFS’ own film festival, the longest running cinematic showcase in the Americas, has also been making waves. Last week’s “State of Cinema” keynote address delivered to the San Francisco International Film Festival by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has been the talk of the industry ever since – and will likely continue doing so all the way to the Cannes Film Festival later this month when Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, premieres in the main competition. Talk about setting an agenda.
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This week all film industry eyes have been trained on New York City where the Tribeca Film Festival is now in full flow. A total of five Slated films were selected for this year’s edition including BLUEBIRD, Lance Edmands’ striking directorial debut that was chosen to open the World Narrative Competition.And what an affecting opening it proved, judged by the first reviews that immediately came in for BLUEBIRD. The Hollywood Reporter critic praised “the soulfully acted drama” for “bringing a potent sense of place to its wintry Maine locations.” IndieWire’s reviewer was equally won over by this “superbly restrained, adult and thoughtful picture” that was garlanded with “terrific performances.” No wonder producers Kyle Martin and Laura Heberton were in such visibly good spirits during the post-premiere celebrations at the McKittrick Hotel.
It is with great pleasure that we announce Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out premieres today on VoD. This marks the first film to successfully secure financing through Slated AND achieve domestic distribution (US & Canada). Congratulations to director Marina Zenovich, producer Lila Yacoub, and the crew behind this incredible follow on to the Emmy Award-Winning film Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. We'd also like to extend congratulations to the Executive Producers including all Slated investors who helped make this happen.