Friday, March 13, 2009

Does the Peter Rice Promotion Leverage Off Slumdog?

I've said for a long time if the studios would do one or two less $100M blockbusters a year and start 20 indies instead, their ROI would go up, although you can't predict which titles will be hits. (Like the book biz or music now.) You can bundle the investment offerings, as Disney often does, to package three movies, say, as a single offering. But investors in the movie business are greedy wildcatters. They don't want to spread the risk. They want a 10 multiple sure-thing. Hence the blockbuster mentality.

I'm sure Murdoch is doing the math. Movement toward the Web as distribution medium will also fracture the audience size even more. Like magazines now. And the recent writers and actors strikes/threats have had union-busting consequences. If it's an original for the Web, it's possible to do a lot nonunion and get around the rules. Or, at the very least, deferred pay, which permits you to start all kinds of losers without upfront opportunity cost.

I don't know much about Peter Rice but Fox Searchlight has hung in there when other boutique-spinoffs got closed. Warners closed their boutique distribution right in the middle of producing Slumdog Millionaire and that is why they did the split distribution deal with Searchlight. (And I don't think Disney has been as enthusiastic about Miramax since the Weinsteins left.)

Slumdog's success might change some thinking, maybe even was a factor in the decision to promote Rice.

Expect lots of Hollywood outsourcing to Bollywood, just like the software industry. They speak English and they're cheap and now they proved their global reach.
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