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OSCARS: Radius-TWC Duo Hopeful To Garner Documentary Nominations With Full Plate Of Contenders

By | Friday November 15, 2013 @ 3:11pm PST
Pete Hammond

Radius-TWC, the specialty division of The Weinstein Company devoted to multi-platform strategies, has only been in business now a couple of years. But it is clearly setting out to make its mark in the Oscar race in a big way this year with four documentaries, all with a strong chance of making the Academy’s short list if industry buzz is any factor at all. Cutie And The Boxer, Inequality For All, Twenty Feet From Stardom and The Unknown Known are the titles Radius co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego highlighted when we met for coffee to discuss their awards strategy.

Oddly, though the company is known for day-and date VOD and theatrical releases — like the recent Ryan Gosling film Only God Forgives, Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man Of Tai Chi and Lovelace to name a few — all four of its docu contenders are traveling the more traditional route by hitting theatres before rolling out to other platforms. The pair have a definite strategy, not only for financial success but also hopefully at the Oscars. “We have I think approached this in a pretty transparent way. And we have put together our blueprint for what we think puts us into the race for each film — and the good news is they are all different”, Quinn said. “I feel like they each fit a very different mold in what could be a possible doc nominee. None of these have been released day and date.” He added that they don’t currently believe there is an audience for these movies on VOD, but there will be one day. “In order to build bigger value for these films in ancillary platforms we need to build them theatrically first,” he said.

And they look at all of these contenders as movies first. They pointed out that their first “traditional release” — the highly successful Twenty Feet From Stardom, the Morgan Neville-directed music docu about background singers — has grossed nearly $5 million (the year’s best for a docu) after successfully taking on non-docus in the specialty realm during its summer release including Frances Ha and Much Ado About Nothing. It’s also brought renewed heat in the music business to the careers of the veteran singers it chronicles. Music- and showbiz-centric documentaries have a tougher time with the Academy committee, which seems to gravitate toward heavier subject matter, but Quinn and Janego are hopeful about Twenty Feet, which I think transcends the genre in the same way as last year’s docu feature winner Searching For Sugar Man. Read More »

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Toronto Q&A: Radius-TWC Presidents Tom Quinn And Jason Janego On How Multi-Platform Is Changing The Indie World

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: This weekend marks exactly one year since former Magnolia execs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego were hired by Harvey and Bob Weinstein to launch Radius-TWC, their first division dedicated to releasing acquisitions in a multi-platform strategy where films premiere first on VOD at a $10 price that drops to $7 when the film reaches theaters. This VOD-centric business is still being honed, and it’s a lightning rod for debate. Theatrical release traditionalists call it a second class way to release films, little more than shuffling the deck to place the ancillary revenue cycle before the theater part that always came first. Exhibitors, concerned that giving screens to films that go VOD first is potentially harmful to their business, are also torn. Stars accustomed to seeing their work on big screens with big P&A commitments are also worried. At the same time, Margin Call and other films show there is a viable business here, particularly for films that don’t justify a big P&A spend. Considering how Harvey can dominate the festival acquisition market, everyone’s waiting to see how Radius will influence the multi-platform game. Quinn and Janego made their first splash with Bachelorette, a pitch black comedy acquired during Sundance for $2 million, and which topped the iTunes movie rankings before it rolled out to theaters this weekend. Here, Quinn and Janego explain their view of a new business that is changing the indie world.

DEADLINE: What will Bachelorette do at the box office this weekend?

JASON JANEGO: In 47 runs across 16 markets, the estimate is $191,033 for the weekend, with a significant increase from Friday to Saturday through word of mouth, and core metropolitan runs performing at or near the top of their complexes. We’re extremely pleased that the film is outpacing much wider releases vying for the same demographic. Our rollout will continue to build on this success in the weeks to come.

DEADLINE: It’s your first release and it became the first VOD title to top the iTunes top movies chart. Besides a good sound bite, what does that mean in revenues?

TOM QUINN: iTunes is one piece of a big puzzle, but what you should know is, going into our opening weekend we grossed over $4 million through VOD already. That’s the fastest grossing film in this space. It has already exceeded Margin Call. We’re on pace to very quickly top All Good Things, which is the biggest VOD earner in the multi-platform stage. We were number one on iTunes but Rentrak does a national Top Ten ranking for all cable VOD transactions. It’s unanimously all studio films in the top ten, and we reached number four.

JANEGO: That’s a big deal because it is based on transactions.

QUINN: So the number one film is a studio film working at a $4 price point and we’re working at a $10 price point. That starts to put it all in perspective. And the only other films in this category that have been on this top ten list are Margin Call and All Good Things, which both reached nine. Nobody before had exceeded that, and so to be there within 36 hours of release, this is the story that Jason and I have been telling everybody for the last 12 months.

DEADLINE: What story is that?
Read More »

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‘Bachelorette’ Becomes An iTunes Hit

By | Tuesday August 14, 2012 @ 6:09pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Here is why I think these Radius-TWC heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego will be interesting to watch as they get untracked heading Harvey Weinstein’s multi-platform releasing company. They’ve done a pre-theatrical release of their Sundance acquisition Bachelorette and it has hit #1 on the iTunes Top Movies chart, the first pre-theatrical release to do so. I saw the Leslye Headland-directed film at its Sundance premiere, and with a cast that included Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, James Marsden and Adam Scott, everyone thought it would be the female version of The Hangover. But in this film, about best friends whose night of prenuptial debauchery threatens to ruin their closest friend’s wedding, these chicks were so hard to love that many buyers walked away for fear of alienating audiences with a wide release that would have required a big P&A spend. Still, the film’s biting humor is good enough to find a niche adult audience, and Janego and Quinn have started to do this with the iTunes release. These days, indie distributors have to find resourceful ways to find audiences while saving the P&A, as Roadside did with Margin Call last year. This year it’s even tougher to rise above the clutter of all the VOD titles. The Radius guys seem to have found a way to do that, before the September 7 theatrical release. Indeed, by way of comparison, … Read More »

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Weinstein Company Names New Shingle Radius And Acquires Edgy Sundance Comedy ‘Bachelorette’

By | Tuesday February 7, 2012 @ 4:35pm PST
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Well that was fast. I’ve confirmed the Bachelorette deal and the fact Tom Quinn and Jason Janego’s company will be called Radius. Release is below the original scoop.

EXCLUSIVE: The Sundance distribution deals continue to flow. The Weinstein Company is closing a deal for North American distribution rights to Bachelorette, an edgy comedy written and directed by Leslye Headland. I’m hearing that the deal is in the vicinity of $2 million, and that the plan is for a multi-platform day and date release with a theatrical component. It’s the first significant festival acquisition made by Tom Quinn and Jason Janego since they joined The Weinstein Company to start a new company that takes advantage of the multi-platform release strategy. They’ve named the new company Radius.

The film premiered Monday January 23 at the Eccles Theater, and stars Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott and Kyle Bornheimer. It’s produced by Brice Dal Farra, Claude Dal Farra, Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Lauren Munsch. The logline: Unresolved issues between four high school friends come roaring back to life when the least popular of them gets engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City and asks the others to be bridesmaids in her wedding. CAA brokered the deal. Some of the buyers I spoke to the night of the screening came in expecting Bridesmaids, but while the comedy and dialogue was raucous, … Read More »

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Toronto Recap: No Drunken Spending A Good Sign For Indie Film Resurgence

Mike Fleming

Was the 2011 Toronto Film Festival a good one for dealmaking? Even after organizers announced a 20% uptick in film deals last Friday (the festival includes foreign territories in its count), the sales kept coming. A long-expected deal with Lionsgate on the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids finally got done (in partnership with Roadside Attractions, which will actually release the film), and Music Box announced overnight it had acquired the Rachel Weisz-starrer The Deep  Blue Sea. Lionsgate was hotly pursuing another film, the Midnight Madness sensation You’re Next, which of all the festival films seems to have the best chance of approaching the box office turned in by Toronto 2010’s breakout Insidious. There have been about 20 acquisitions so far and that many more could come in the next few weeks.

Still, can you call the Toronto acquisitions marketplace “solid” when no films have been bought so far by The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, or Fox Searchlight (yeah, I revealed that they bought Shame during Toronto, but it was a deal all but sealed in Venice), or for that matter FilmDistrict, Open Road or Relativity Media, each of which jumped into the distribution business to release films that can play on upwards of 2000 screens? Buyers and sellers said it was a pretty good festival at least. One filled with mostly small deals and a show of distributor discipline that is a positive sign for an indie film sector that just started pulling out of a nosedive this time last year. Read More »

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Toronto: As Magnolia Turns 10, Owner Todd Wagner Says It’s Not For Sale And That VOD Strategy Is Thriving

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Along with everything else about the 2001 Toronto Film Festival, the launch of Magnolia Pictures was quickly forgotten on September 11, as co-founder Eamonn Bowles and other indie film execs scrambled to find ways to get home. Magnolia marked its 10th anniversary at 2011 Toronto. While the company still doesn’t carry the profile of some other indie distributors, Bowles and co-owner Todd Wagner said their model — mixing traditional indie theatrical distribution with emerging digital technology — has made them distinctive and profitable. VOD revenues now often outpace theatrical for Magnolia films, and they return profit to filmmakers because of low P&A spends. Bowles and Wagner have been honing the VOD model since they were branded charlatans by theater chains in 2005 when Steven Soderbergh’s micro-budget film Bubble was released simultaneously on movie screens, VOD and DVD. Wagner and partner Mark Cuban put Magnolia and other film assets under the 2929 Entertainment banner on the selling block earlier this year, but pulled them back when they didn’t get a high price. Wagner said he’s staying.

Magnolia releases 35-40 films each year now, with upcoming releases that include the 2011 Toronto title Melancholia (which got Lars von Trier banned by Cannes for making dumb pro-Nazi comments). Some Magnolia efforts follow a theatrical release cycle, others go direct to DVD. But VOD has increasingly become the distributor’s calling card and Wagner said proof of its viability came when Harvey Weinstein poached Magnolia execs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego to start a VOD venture for The Weinstein Company.

“Harvey’s been in the industry forever, and he thought it was a good enough model to hire some of our folks away,” Wagner told me. “I’m flattered. There are other people doing this now, from IFC to John Sloss. To me, it’s validation that we’ve hit on something. But we’ve got an advantage, a unique collection of assets in the Landmark Theater chain, a home video division, and HDNet. The big theater chains still absolutely won’t play Ultra VOD titles, so having a theater chain is helpful. As is having the television network for the relationships it has made us with all the MSO’s. These synergies allow us to be freewheeling in how we license content. And producers are coming back to us with films because we are cutting them checks. That rarely happens elsewhere because of all the P&A that stands in front of them.” Read More »

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TOLDJA! Weinstein Company Announces VOD Label

Mike Fleming

The Weinstein Company has confirmed Deadline’s scoop about it forming a VOD venture and naming Tom Quinn and Jason Janego to run it. The deal will certainly focus attention on the emergence of VOD as a lifeline to movies that either don’t have the commercial premise or the starpower for a wide theatrical release. Here’s the announcement from TWC:

New York (September 6, 2011) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that Tom Quinn and Jason Janego have joined forces with TWC Co-Chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein to create a new TWC label to bring new films and other specialty entertainment to audiences simultaneously across multiple digital and traditional platforms. Quinn and Janego will serve as Co-Presidents of the yet-to-be named label, which will be based in New York. The announcement was made by TWC COO David Glasser.

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Toronto Film Festival Surprise: Harvey Weinstein To Start VOD Division

By | Tuesday September 6, 2011 @ 1:14pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Toronto Film Festival doesn’t start for a couple of days, but already I hear there are some surprises in store. Sources tell me that The Weinstein Company is finalizing plans to launch a new video-on-demand division. I’ve heard that Harvey Weinstein is finishing a deal to bring aboard Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, both of whom were integral in building the VOD business of Magnolia Pictures.

How this factors into the way that TWC does business at Toronto will be very interesting. From last Toronto to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival in May, TWC has been the most prolific distributor acquiring films. While TWC got in the game very early on last year’s Best Picture Oscar winner The King’s Speech, much of TWC’s upcoming awards-season slate — from The Artist to The Iron Lady, The Wettest County in the World and W.E. — were all festival acquisitions. Those films were bought for competitive acquisition prices with P&A commitments that reflected theatrical release plans. While there will undoubtedly be a couple of those films that will begin premiering for buyers at Toronto later this week, Toronto  always contains gems that are coveted by boutique distributors whose business models consists of small theatrical releases and big VOD plans. Another big competitor has just stepped into the mix for those films. TWC did not comment.

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