WME Mints 20 Partners; Sundance Stalwarts Mark Ankner, Liesl Copland, Alexis Garcia

By | Friday January 17, 2014 @ 1:23pm PST
Mike Fleming

MarkAnkner1BREAKING: WME has minted 20 new partners into the agency fold, and those include the tireless Sundance dealmakers working under WME Global Finance & Distribution chief Graham Taylor. Mark Ankner, Liesl Copland and Alexis Garcia all have made partner.

lieslOn the talent side, Esther Chang, Brandon Liebman, Doug Lucterhand, Boomer Malkin, and Brent Morley got partner stripes. On the motion picture lit side, Sarah Self is a new partner. Read More »

Comments 22

AFM: Image Acquires ‘Blair Witch’ Helmer’s Toronto Thriller ‘Lovely Molly’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Image Entertainment has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Lovely Molly, the thriller directed by Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez. The deal is high six figures and the plan is to release theatrically next spring. Lovely Molly made its debut in the Midnight Madness section of the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. Newcomer Gretchen Lodge plays the title character, a newlywed who returns to her long-abandoned family home and is hit with scary reminders of her nightmarish childhood that quickly color her new life. She descends into an evil that is part psychosis and part obsession. Haxan Films’ Robin Cowie and Gregg Hale produced with Amber Entertainment’s Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky.

The deal comes as Content Film sells international territories at AFM. Image acquisitions VP Mark Ward called the film “a return and evolution to the genre that [Eduardo] created” with Blair Witch. “We look forward to partnering with Haxan and Amber to maximize the truly robust transmedia marketing campaign they’ve put together to make the film a huge success.” It’s the second significant AFM-timed deal for Image, which on Friday launched a distribution relationship with Alamo Drafthouse. Read More »

Comments (17)

Toronto: Content Acquires Foreign Territories On ‘Lovely Molly’

Mike Fleming

Content has acquired foreign rights on Lovely Molly, the genre film written and directed by Blair Witch Project‘s Eduardo Sanchez. A domestic distribution deal is coming. Lovely Molly made its debut in the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto Film … Read More »

Comments (1)

Millennium Buying ‘Bernie’ With Jack Black

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: A deal is near for Millennium Entertainment to acquire U.S. distribution rights to the Los Angeles Film Festival opening-night pic Bernie. I’m told that it will be the first significant grab for former Film Department co-head Mark Gill since … Read More »

Comments (12)

LA Film Fest: WME Global’s Graham Taylor Gives Keynote About Independent Film

By | Saturday June 18, 2011 @ 6:22pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Graham Taylor, one of the top dealmakers in packaging and brokering distribution deals for independent films, gave a lively keynote speech at the Los Angeles Film Festival.  Taylor gave Martin Scorsese a run for his money in terms of the music cues he employed in his speech to make his points about the improving indie film marketplace:

Money Talks And Art Matters, Graham Taylor, LAFF 2011 Keynote

[Music cue: We Will Rock You by Queen]

Never in the history of the movie business has there been a better time for the Independents to be entrepreneurial. The balance of power between Studios, Indies and Consumers is changing. Whether you are a filmmaker, producer, financier, distributer, or executive, now is the time to embrace the change. We are after all in the middle of a revolution, and nobody puts baby in the corner.

I asked my friend Bill Pullman to say a few words on the state of the independent film business over the past few years.

[roll clip of Bill Pullmans infamous speech in “Independence Day”]

[Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft [filmmakers] from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial (festival) battle in this history of mankind [the movies]. Mankind [The movies] — that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore.  We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps its fate that today is the 4th of July [LAFF], and you will once again be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution [Harvey] — but from annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win the day, the 4th of July [LAFF] will no longer be known as an American holiday [film festival], but as the day when the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!” Today, we celebrate our Independence Day [Film]!]

Good Morning. Thanks to Rebecca Yeldham and LAFF for asking me to speak today and kickoff a series of discussions over the weekend. When I asked Rebecca had she in fact meant to ask Graham King to speak instead, her response (buried with a disarming Aussie accent) was “well love, he is smarter and more successful, but he wasn’t available.” LAFF titled this morning’s discussion “Money Talks and Art Matters.” The convergence of film, art and commerce. This is a subject I am pretty well versed on. After all, my dad was a PhD economist and my mother an artist. Both Berkeley grads and present during the era of the sit-down protest, our home in Portland, Oregon was littered with Econ theory books, paintings in progress, and Birkenstocks.

From a young age I was forced to read my dad’s anti-trust testimony on the Utility Industry (you know, the sexy stuff), and at the same time was winning the Oregon State Fair’s mother/son weaving competition. Yes, I had a mean cross-over stitch. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: like an even blend of both parents, as a former producer and now as an agent, I am still right in the middle of the relationship between the artist and the money. A couples therapist, if you will. I build companies, enable artists and activate content. For me it’s simple: I love movies and I and love the movie business.

Like all of us, I have unwittingly found myself front and center in the time of a revolution, when the only way to act is entrepreneurially. In order to operate effectively I have had to relearn lessons from the past. After all, in the movie business history has a funny way of repeating itself. Over the last 100 years, our business has had a few constants. Hollywood has produced and distributed content globally with more than 90% of it controlled by a handful of studios. In the 20th century, the greatest American export has been entertainment. The studios have operated sophisticated machinery that ships content globally, reaching anyone, anywhere.

At odds over economic realities, the relationship between the indies and the studios has always been a precarious one. This strained relationship has resembled an ad for the Olive Garden. The studio says “Hey, we treat you like family,” but instead they have consumed artists and money like the unlimited bread bowls put forth. In the same way that no self-respecting Italian from the old country would dine there, we as Independents have been forced to seek other options to carbo-load.

In 1919, when Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks created United Artists, it was an entrepreneurial reaction to the studio system. Artists and money banding together to create something different, introducing the idea of the “Independent.” At the time Metro Pictures head Richard Rowland said “the inmates are taking over the asylum,” in reference to the four actors starting UA and going up against the studios. People thought they were bonkers, but their passion and entrepreneurial spirit to create content and get it directly to consumers was an inspired mission. Sadly those principles at UA eventually disbanded 20 years later and the Golden Age of Hollywood settled in, effectively creating a caste system. Minus a few anomalies, it would again take the artists to rise up in the late 60s and early 70s, when a crop of groundbreaking films and entrepreneurs would take shape and give rise to Independents. A number of independent companies would fly high and fan out throughout the 70s and 80s and for the first time, the studios truly sourced outside financing, often from other countries.

In 1990, some pre-pubescent Mutant Turtles well versed in martial arts would kick the box office’s ass to 100 million. This showed the world the economic power of the independent film and institutionalized our peeps. The studios in turn responded, opening “indie divisions” and giving Independents a real seat at the table for the first time.

Read More »

Comments 43

TOLDJA! Relativity Closes Big Acquisition Deal For Navy SEAL Movie ‘Act Of Valor’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Relativity Media has closed its deal for Act of Valor, as Deadline revealed earlier today. Press release is below our original break on the deal. Relativity has dated the film for 2012, so I suspect it … Read More »

Comments 39

‘Conan The Barbarian’ Helmer Marcus Nispel To Next Direct ‘Backmask’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Conan the Barbarian helmer Marcus Nispel will next direct Backmask, a $10 million film that will begin shooting this summer. It’s based on an idea by Nispel, whose recent films include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th. Kirsten Elms is writing the script. Nispel is keeping the … Read More »

Comments (10)

A Little Pre-Cannes ‘Double’ Dealing As Image Acquires Richard Gere Thriller

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: A pre-Cannes domestic distribution deal was closed last night by Image Entertainment for The Double, the Hyde Park/Imagenation thriller that marked the directing debut of Michael Brandt. Brand wrote the script with Derek Haas, his writing partner on such … Read More »

Comments (15)

SXSW: Anchor Bay Makes 7-Figure Deal For ‘The Divide’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE:They saved the best for last on the final movie day of the South By Southwest Festival. In the biggest deal of SXSW this year and possibly ever for the Austin fest, Anchor Bay paid low seven … Read More »

Comments 20

Sundance: Anchor Bay Acquires Dito Montiel’s ‘The Son Of No One’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Anchor Bay has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the Dito Montiel-directed cop drama The Son Of No One, which was the 2011 Sundance Film Festival’s final premiere last Friday. I’m told the deal was in the $2 million minimum … Read More »

Comments (19)

Mike Fleiss Plots Feature Biopic Of ‘The Cove’s’ Dolphin Activist Richard O’Barry

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 8:17am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Mike Fleiss, who created The Bachelor and other reality hits before branching into films, has acquired feature film rights to the life story of Richard O’Barry. He is the dolphin preservationist and the central figure in the Oscar-winning documentary … Read More »

Comments (6)