Variety Magazine hosted a high-powered summit this past Thursday in LA which, surprisingly, was all about Family Entertainment and Faith-based films and programming. Of course, we at W4F have our fingers pressed firmly against the industry pulse (not usually in a strangulation way) so we knew about this event, I dunno, two to three months…is that the right word? ’Months’? Hold on. No, the word I’m looking for is ‘days’…yes we knew about this event days before it took place. Possibly hours.
But it was a big one. Lots of big wigs in attendance and presenting:
Dick Rolfe, Co-Founder & CEO, The Dove Foundation
Ben Howard, Co-Founder, Provident Films
Simon Swart, EVP & GM, Fox Home Entertainment
Darren Melameth, VP, Crown Media Family Networks(Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movie Channel)
Brad Siegel, Vice Chairman, GMC TV
Dale Ardizzone, COO, The Inspiration Networks
Richard Ingber, President, Worldwide Marketing, Alcon Entertainment
Greg Liberman, President & CEO, Spark Networks
Rio Cyrus, SVP, Marketing, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Arleen Lopez, Project Manager, Faith Marketing (Gril in Progress), Pantelion Films
Brian Bird, Partner, Believe Pictures
John Shepherd, President, Mpower Pictures
Ted Baehr, Founder and Publisher, Movieguide
Michael Van Dyck, Agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
Rich Peluso, VP, Affirm Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Jon Erwin, Director, October Baby
Kenn Viselmann, Founder, Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company & Producer/Creator, The Oogieloves
Charlie Ebersol, Co-Founder, The Hochberg Ebersol Company (THE Company)/Executive Producer, The Moment on USA Network
James Ackerman, President & CEO, The Documentary Channel
Brian Wells, Co-Founder, Flashlight Entertainment
Ralph Winter, Producer, X-Men:Wolverine, X-Men: The Last Stand
Corbin Bernsen, Actor/Producer (Psych, The Big Year)
Dean Batali, Producer & Writer, That 70′s Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Chonda Pierce’s This Ain’t Prettyville)
Lori McCreary, Producer (Invictus, The Magic of Belle Island)
Jason Carbone, Executive Producer (Tia and Tamera, Beverly’s Full House)
I know, right? How did we not hear about this? And with all those big brains in the same room, what did they do? Discuss a moratorium on End-times movies? Plan an intervention on Mel Gibson? Watch Sherwood Pictures and Tyler Perry print their own money? Did they even settle whether the wafer or the bread loaf was the proper sacremental depiction on film?
Nope. None of that.
Here’s some things they did discuss, from Variety…
[Mark] Burnett enthusiastically spoke of his passion for ["The Bible"] project, a 10-hour epic to air on cabler History next spring. He echoed the sentiment of many panelists at the daylong gathering at the Sofitel Hotel in emphasizing the huge, often untapped potential of faith-based productions.
However, Burnett also emphasized that bringing “Bible” to the screen has transcended business concerns for his company. His wife, thesp Roma Downey, has been on location in Morocco for weeks working as a producer and thesp on the project.
“I couldn’t give a shit about the business model,” Burnett said. “This was about love and faith.”
Ahem, Mr. Burnett. Puh-LEASE! We do not use such vulgar words in Christian circles such as “Business Model”. In fact, most Christian filmmakers don’t give a shipoopi about the business side of production. Profits? Pssht? Marketing costs? Ha! Investors? Please! More like Donors! Awesome Academy award winning actors? Naw, we got my Aunt Sally who teaches 2nd Grade Sunday school. And her co-star is this dude who was awesome in, like, this 1970 sitcom. And we’re shooting on MiniDV with a script my Dentist wrote. Why isn’t anyone buying my DVD?
End Scene. End Rant.
Anyway, back to the Family Faith-based Summity shmorgasbord thingie. John Kennedy from Beliefnet actually got to attend and had a great wrap-up here.
Dick Rolfe distributed the Dove Foundation’s 2012 Film Profitability Study which examined film box office results from 2005 through 2009. The report found that of the 1000 most-widely-distributed film during that time frame, 376 (38%) were rated R, 412 (41%) were PG-13, 178 (18%) were PG and only 34 (3%) were rated G. During the same period, G-rated movies averaged profits of 108.5 million dollars with PG films averaging 65.5 million in plus-side revenues. PG-13 film, meanwhile, averaged 59.7 million in profits. Bringing up the rear were R-rated movies with average profits of about 12.7 million.
So, the study points out, Hollywood released 11 times more R-rated movies than G-rated movies from 2005 through 2009 — yet the averaged G-rated film produced over eight times the profit of its R-rated counterpart. As the report notes, the market for G-rated fare seems far from saturated.
The Dove Foundation, as you may know, also awards its seal of approval to films that support positive human values. The report notes that, during the period covered, Dove-approved films were 2.5 times more profitable as film that failed to meet it human values criteria. Dove-approved PG films were 2.8 times more profitable than other PG films. Dove-approved PG-13 films, meanwhile, were 1 3/4 times as profitable as non Dove-approved films with the same rating.
The bottom line appears to be that audiences prefer movies that support traditional values (i.e. faith, family, kindness, forgiveness, gratitude) to those that ignore them or even treat them with ridicule and contempt.
Kennedy gives a good synopsis of who spoke to what points, we only hope he’ll come back and share some of the golden mcnuggets of wisdom that were shared along the way.
(June 1, 2009) A Variety Magazine article by Dave McNary that talks about Lionsgate’s jump in revenue 1Q2009. Interestingly enough, Tyler Perry’s “Madea Goes to Jail” helped boost the studios earnings.
(EXCERPT) Driven by strong box office, homevid and library sales, Lionsgate reported its second-highest quarterly revenue of $463.2 million for its fourth quarter ended March 31 — but that wasn’t enough to save it from a $163 million loss for the fiscal year.
The 2009 revenues were up 8% but the loss was more than double the $74 million loss in fiscal 2008.
Lionsgate said the fiscal-year loss was due primarily to underperformance of its film slate during its second and third quarters and a $36.1 million charge taken on its DVD distribution of Hit Entertainment’s family entertainment titles.
“We ended our fiscal year on a strong note, with record box office in the first calendar quarter,” Feltheimer said. “We are also pleased that we could drive library, home entertainment and television revenues to record levels in such a challenging market environment. We believe that continued strength in our core businesses coupled with meaningful contributions from many of our recent investments and lower theatrical marketing costs position us for strong positive metrics in fiscal 2010.”
For the 2009 fiscal year, motion picture revenue jumped 17% to $223.3 million, propelled by fourth-quarter titles including “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail,” ”My Bloody Valentine” and “The Haunting in Connecticut.”
Read the full article at VARIETY
(April 14, 2009) A Variety article by Marc Grazer and Justin Kroll speaks to the economic pinch that Tinseltown is feeling. Apparently the odd jobs are drying up.
(EXCERPT) Hollywood is feeling the chills of a hiring freeze.
Jobs that the creative community once relied on to stay afloat during rough times are themselves starting to dry up in this recession.
That includes everything from directing assignments at commercial production houses to positions at restaurants, bars, hotels and retailers.
Even temp agencies have little to offer job seekers.
“Most employers now are getting rid of someone and, instead of calling us, they are just having someone else they employ do two or more jobs,” said one temp agent, who hasn’t seen the entertainment industry this deep in the doldrums since the period after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Even then the job market wasn’t as bleak as it is now, the agent said. “I’m getting calls every day and am simply unable to fill everybody’s needs,” she said.
That’s bad news for the hundreds of staffers who have been handed pinkslips at the major studios, networks, tenpercenteries and various shingles around town over the past year.
It’s even worse for people who are struggling to break into the biz.
Breaking into the biz has never been easy. Now the entry level ranks are being flooded from below (newbies coming to town) and above (professionals losing their jobs). So instead of going to L.A. to fetch coffee and drycleaning for two years…maybe it’s time to make that ultra-low-budget feature or award-winning short at home.
The full article can be read at Variety
(April 14, 2009) This Variety article by David Cohen takes us into the near future of TV’s rise to a 3D network. I know that in a world where some of us still shoot with a Sony PD-150 from time to time that this all seems lightyears ahead of us. But it’s always good to keep one eye on the horizon.
(EXCERPT) The seeds of the nation’s first 3-D broadcast network have been planted, repping a small step for television, but a giant leap for 3-D.
Signet Intl. Holdings, a publicly traded company led by former NBC and PBS exec Tom Donaldson and boxing promoter Ernie Letiziano, is buying AMG TV, a modestly sized net that feeds syndicated programs to some 200 terrestrial station affiliates, some of them carrying programming only part of the day.
Simultaneously, Signet has pacted with Kerner Broadcast Corp. for exclusive use of Kerner’s 3-D TV technology. Kerner, a spinoff from Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic, is also taking an equity position in Signet.
“We fully plan to have, as soon as we can acquire the library, the first full-time 3-D network in the country,” Donaldson told Daily Variety.
Donaldson said as part of the deal, the company expects to receive a capital infusion of around $14 million, to be used for personnel expansion, technical development and an advertising and PR campaign.
Currrent set-top boxes for cable and satellite aren’t equipped for 3-D, though many TVs already sold are technically 3-D ready.
To that end, Kerner plans to introduce two solutions: an add-on box for cable and satellite subscribers; and an “enhancement” that will turn any HD television into a 3-D TV for about $50, including the cost of glasses.
Glasses, hmmm. Don’t like the sound of where that’s headed. But anyway, for the full article check out Variety
(JAN 01, 2009) A Variety article by Pamela McClintock with some post-Holiday box office analysis. The full article can be read HERE.
(EXCERPT) The Christmas box office has turned into a cash cow for a diverse litter of titles, guaranteeing that ticket sales for 2008 will match or exceed last year’s record-breaking haul of $9.62 billion.
“Marley,” produced by Fox 2000 and New Regency, was one of five titles opening nationwide on Christmas Day. All but one — “The Spirit” — are collecting plenty of coin and seeing the sort of midweek grosses that can make the week between Christmas and New Year’s the most lucrative stretch of the year.