Among the more interesting new paid YouTube channels of the 30 unveiled today are the ones belonging to indie film distributors leading the charge into untested digital and outside-the-box models. Cinedigm relaunched their Docurama brand in April with a library of 1,250 documentary features, also plotting a streaming app for launch this spring which would make more than 150 Docurama titles available for free on multiple devices. Their new curated Docurama YouTube channel could similarly boost digital niche moviewatching and carve a path for other distributors and filmmakers exploring alternative distribution online. For $2.99 a month, users will get access to Docurama’s playlist of docu features and bonus materials refreshed each week, with 25% of those feature offerings being new or recent releases. (All of YouTube’s new premium channels will first launch with a 14-day free trial.) The ambitious growth plan set in motion last year under Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk so far has also included a plan to help outfit drive-in theaters with digital projectors and last month’s Arthur Newman BitTorrent experiment.
On Friday Anchor Bay Films is distributing the spirited feature-length documentary Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel into LA and NY theaters. But the DIY producer/director won’t be basking in the glory. Instead, at an age when most Hollywood veterans might want to slow down, Corman has three movies going at once — The Undead, which is about to start shooting in China, Attack Of The Fifty Foot Cheerleader which is currently filming, and Dance With A Vampyre which also is underway. In fact, the day after he won his honorary Academy Award in 2010, he was back in his office putting the movie Sharktopus together. As Alex Stapleton, director of Corman’s World, tells me, “Roger doesn’t believe in retirement. He has so much passion for what he’s chosen to do with his life, he doesn’t want to quit.” He is so in the moment that he doesn’t even keep archives. “Because he’s committed to living his life like that, he’s been able to make hundreds upon hundreds of movies. I’ve never seen a human being at his age with that much energy.” For example: in the same time Stapleton made Corman’s World, Roger shot 12 movies. Here’s the trailer (text contd below):
Obviously much has changed around Corman since he started his film career in the 1950s and mentored a good portion of today’s Hollywood major players. While he used to compete theatrically with the majors in the 1960s and 1970s, …
The documentary about the exploits of Roger Corman screened at Sundance and in Cannes. A lot of people got their start in the industry by working on his movies learning cheap-and-dirty techniques. The fast-pace trailer mashes together snippets of his films with images and comments from people who’ve worked with him and others who appreciate what he managed to accomplish. Jack Nicholson’s drily delivered closing remark sums it up perfectly.
UPDATE EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard have reached a milestone unusual in Hollywood: partners for 25 years. When they first got together, Grazer was a TV producer. Howard, after growing up on the small screen in The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, had only directed a couple of TV movies and the low budget Roger Corman-produced Grand Theft Auto. Grazer and Howard have been at it together ever since, building a company that over 25 years has been one of the most consistent generators of content. Their TV series output includes 24, Parenthood, Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights; their movies have grossed $13.5 billion worldwide. That includes A Beautiful Mind, which won Howard the Academy Award for Best Director. Grazer and Howard shared Best Picture Oscars that night as well. Not everything they’ve done has succeeded, of course. They they took their company public and repurchased the shares; they helped launched and fold the online venture Pop.com; their most recent film together, the adult comedy The Dilemma, was a misfire that created controversy over the inclusion of the word “gay” in a trailer. They’ve had way more hits than misses.
In honor of Imagine’s Silver Anniversary, Deadline invited Howard and Grazer to look back over their quarter century together, and into a future that includes something never tried before by anyone in Hollywood. They’re adapting Stephen King’s 7-novel series The Dark Tower into a film trilogy, and a limited run TV series in between. It has pushed the envelope enough that their longtime home studio, Universal Pictures, postponed a planned late summer start until next year and asked the filmmakers to cut the budget. Some question the studio’s resolve on such a massive undertaking. The studio has to green light the film by next month or the rights revert to Imagine, Akiva Goldsman and King, who are determined to make it regardless.
DEADLINE: Not many marriages of any kind last 25 years in Hollywood. What is most important about the anniversary?
HOWARD: It’s such a challenging time to get movies made. And yet, look at all we have coming out. Tower Heist, the Gus Van Sant movie Restless, J Edgar with Clint Eastwood and Leo DiCaprio, Cowboys & Aliens, this big broad appeal four quadrant fantasy adventure story with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. With The Playboy Club getting on the air, and Parenthood getting picked up, I’m proud we’re doing what we’ve always done. A wide variety of projects that got made because we care and put in the energy to get them done in light of how difficult it is these days.
DEADLINE: Simple as that?
HOWARD: Because I’m in New York, we’re not forced to stare at each other’s faces 24/7. But I think that’s not really it. We love what we’re doing, we have fun doing it and our sensibilities are in sync. In a business that can create so many feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, I learned to trust in that. Brian is smart and cares about me doing well and feeling good about what I’m doing. It’s a partnership built on support. It has been that way since the beginning.
GRAZER: It works because we have similar tastes and not only gravitate toward the same material but also what lives inside the core of the movie it becomes. We’ve done, and Ron has directed, all kinds of genres. We have a common interest in the humanity aspect of a movie, regardless if it’s a comedy or a drama. We also share a similar work ethic.
DEADLINE: When you cover all genres, does Imagine have a wheelhouse? For a company looking to last, is it advisable to have one?
HOWARD: The process is what gets Brian and me excited, whatever the genre. Not specializing has given our company a sense of flexibility and adaptability to whatever the market or the zeitgeist is suggesting. We’ve always respected each other as creative people. If Brian loves something and I don’t quite get it, I’ll tell him that but I’ll never try to impede the progress. He’s the same with me. With Apollo 13, I wasn’t sure the genre would work, because space films hadn’t done that well. Brian was instantly so excited about it, and made me realize we were onto something. 8 Mile, I don’t know anything about rap. This was something he understood. I didn’t know how to make that movie, but I recognized a great idea. Whenever the two of us get excited, on films like Splash, Night Shift and Parenthood, those have resulted in the building blocks of the company. I’ve always liked TV but I phased it out for awhile and it was Brian’s perseverance that has made us strong in both TV and films. Independent companies are rarely strong in both.
GRAZER: What we’ve do is agree on the moral center of a project, but nobody’s better at finding the language of a particular movie than Ron. He’s got a grasp of understanding new vocabularies, whether it’s the The Da Vinci Code, fantasy like Cocoon or Splash, or Backdraft and The Grinch. He is great at inhabiting a world and completely understanding and expressing its language. In A Beautiful Mind, he entered that world and understood the medical science of mental illness. So there have been times where he led the charge, and I was drawn in by his excitement.
DEADLINE: What was the last hard conversation or professional disagreement you can remember?
HOWARD: I can’t think of one offhand, but even when we have disagreements, I can’t think of a case where one of us ever said, ‘Oh, please don’t do this.’ If there’s a lot of passion from one or the other, then the support of the company is going to be there.
UPDATE, 8:25 AM: As I tipped you yesterday, Paramount’s Adam Goodman and acquisitions exec Matt Brodie and Indian Paintbrush’s Peter McPartlin closed the deal with the UTA team today around 6 AM for the Super Crispy Entertainment production Like Crazy about young love from co-writer and director Drake Doremus (Douchebag). I’m told it was a $4 million minimum guarantee and a “substantial” 7-figure P&A commitment. Adam Goodman, President of Paramount’s Film Group, and Matt Brodlie, SVP of Productions and Acquisitions for Paramount, along with Indian Paintbrush’s President of Production Mark Roybal, negotiated for the rights with the film’s reps Rich Klubeck and David Flynn from UTA, along with producer Jonathan Schwartz and Doremus’ attorney Lawrence Kopeikin from Morris Yorn. Later Goodman said in a statement, “Along with our partners at Indian Paintbrush, we are extremely pleased to be a part of such a great movie, and look forward to working with Drake, Jonathan, Andrea and a tremendous cast of actors.” Starring Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, and Jennifer Lawrence, Like Crazy was written by Doremus and Ben York Jones about a British college student who falls for an American student, only to be separated from him when she’s banned from the U.S. after overstaying her visa.
EXCLUSIVE 3:09 AM: Into the wee hours of Sunday, the 2011 Sundance Film Festival was inching close to its first big deal. I’m …
Sundance: ‘My Idiot Brother’ Heats Up; Kevin Smith Bummed, Morgan Spurlock Sells Out; Roger Corman Blows Up
In other Sundance news… The action on the Paul Rudd comedy My Idiot Brother began right after the premiere screening finished. The two parties chasing it hardest were Relativity Media and The Weinstein Company, with talk of a third bidder as well. The discussions were still taking shape around 2 AM, and the feeling was the film had a good shot to reach $5 million. Reaction to the film was that it was more heartfelt than broad comedy, and some of the players looking for a can’t miss wide release weren’t biting…
The unfortunate timing of Sunday’s Red State premiere –it starts right around the beginning of the fourth quarter of the New York Jets-Pittsburgh Steelers AFC Championship game created misunderstanding between director Kevin Smith and partner Jon Gordon over a football viewing party organized by Harvey Weinstein, but Harvey was quick to make it clear he was there to show love for the filmmaker he launched with Clerks. Smith and Gordon, who named their Harvey Boys banner for Weinstein, felt this way, according to an insider: “Kevin and Jon feel like the kids whose dad doesn’t show up for their baseball game because he went to a strip bar with the guys from the office instead.” Weinstein told me that despite the party, he never planned to miss Smith’s …
EXCLUSIVE: It’s almost like the Sundance Film Festival has started, with all the advance acquisition activity. A&E IndieFilm just acquired TV rights to Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel, the documentary about low-budget independent icon Roger Corman. A&E becomes an investor in a film that will still be shopped for feature rights, much the way that A&E was a ground floor participant in The Tillman Story, the documentary acquired for theatrical release by The Weinstein Company after its Sundance premiere. Corman will be on hand for Friday night’s world premiere in Park City.
Directed by Alex Stapleton, Corman’s World focuses on Corman’s prolific film output, and also careers that launched in his low-budget factory that include James Cameron, Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Francis Coppola, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jonathan Demme and Martin Scorsese. Many of them tell their stories in the documentary. Howard once told me that at the height of his American Graffiti and Happy Days fame, he went to Corman to horse trade for the chance to direct. He agreed to star in Corman’s Eat My Dust in exchange for the chance to be a second unit director or more, on a future project. Corman rejected a bunch of Howard’s ideas, but while testing titles for Eat My Dust, Corman told Howard that another title, Grand Theft Auto, was an audience pleaser. Howard rushed to fashion a car-crash comedy around it, turning in an outline the next day. …
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
SUNDAY AM UPDATE: I think the biggest news of the Marvel Studios panel tonight is that The Punisher is now owned by Marvel Studios again, and will probably figure into a future film. I’ve learned The Punisher rights reverted to Marvel in 2009 following the release of Punisher 2. The studio has no immediate plans to develop a movie based on the franchise. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige last night did not say when the Punisher rights reverted, or how: just that they have.
So who is The Punisher? In the comics, Frank Castle is a Vietnam veteran whose family is killed in a Mafia crossfire. Donning a black spandex costume with a skull logo, he declares war on crime and becomes a vigilante. Introduced as a Spider-Man foe in the 1970s, his popularity took off in the late 1980s, when grim and “realistic” superheroes became the norm. The Punisher is different from many superheroes in that he uses guns and has no secret identity. (He is known to be Frank Castle.) On film, he has been portrayed three times.
FRIDAY, JULY 23
STAR WARS DAY (This is a meaningless appellation unless and until George Lucas sees fit to say or do anything regarding the proposed live-action TV series.)
Luke Y Thompson covers Hollywood events at the Con for Deadline:
10:15-11:15 AM: Aloha, Earth! Have you heard they’re doing a new HAWAII FIVE-O TV show? Do you care? Well, you might want to attend the panel anyway, as the show’s executive producers are STAR TREK/TRANSFORMERS scribes Orci and Kurtzman, the director of the pilot is UNDERWORLD’s Len Wiseman, and it stars Daniel Dae Kim (LOST) and Grace Park (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA). Sure, they’ll try to steer the discussion toward this new show rather than talk about what you actually want them to talk about, but it’s a chance to see ‘em all at once anyway. Room 6BCF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM: Star Wars Day: Hasbro Panel. If you’re at Comic-Con, chances are you’ve owned STAR WARS toys at some point. Wanna see some new ones? This is the place. Room 7AB
11:00 AM-1:00 PM: Comic-Con How-To Session: Costuming with Sabrina Belly Dancer. From the official schedule: “Sabrina will show how to create a costume bra top for hall costumes or a masquerade performance.” In saying that, it has practically guaranteed that all the creepy raincoat dudes will come out of the woodwork for this one. Room 18
11:00 AM-12:00 PM: Mattel and DC Comics: A Heroic Partnership. Fans of action-figure collecting love Mattel’s DC superhero toys, and hate how hard …
This is that Roger Corman and Syfy Channel’s schlockfest — a Navy-engineered killing machine that’s a shark in a dress made of tentacles – I told you about earlier this year. It capitalizes on the straight-to-video pic Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus on Yahoo’s Top 10 most viewed trailers of 2009. So Karen O’Hara, Syfy’s boss of original movies, announced via Twitter a greenlight for the long gestating Sharktopus! Love that Corman, who’s already made Supergator, Dinocroc, and Dinoshark, has given the pic a fab Beach Blanket Bingo vibe. (In answer to your queries, that theme song was done by director Declan O’Brien’s two nieces and their band, the Cheetah Whores):