Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 
'The Witch' Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 'The Witch' Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance Reviews: 'The Bronze' Is "Potty-Mouthed," "Vinegar-Spirited," Racy Gymnast Comedy Sundance Reviews: 'The Bronze' Is "Potty-Mouthed," "Vinegar-Spirited," Racy Gymnast Comedy 'American Sniper' Writer Jason Hall Addresses Concerns About Clint Eastwood's Controversial War Pic 'American Sniper' Writer Jason Hall Addresses Concerns About Clint Eastwood's Controversial War Pic Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Oscar Predictions 2015 Oscar Predictions 2015

The Fighter's Success Has Many Fathers

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 14, 2010 at 4:18AM

Careful what you wish for.
0
Thompson on Hollywood

Careful what you wish for.

Relativity chief Ryan Kavanaugh got some good news and bad news Golden Globes nominations morning. The movie he acquired in turnaround from Paramount two years ago (with Mark Wahlberg attached), The Fighter, scored six nominations including best drama, director, actor, supporting actor and two for supporting actress.

The bad news: now Kavanaugh has to pay for a costly awards campaign. "It's been a long, hard, exciting road," says Kavanaugh. "On the one hand it's my baby, so I'm saying, 'yes!' On the other side, 'shit!' I'm arguing with myself about how much we can invest in it and still make money."

Thompson on Hollywood

The story of how The Fighter got made is revealing of the new economies of scale in Hollywood. Indie Kavanaugh overhauled the script from top to bottom, he says, to make it more of a "feel-good family movie and love story," hired David O. Russell and brought in a new cast, including Christian Bale; raised foreign coin from 110 countries, and shot the boxing drama in 33 days with only three set aside for the fight scenes (he did finance some reshoots in the end).

If Paramount had paid full freight (with stars such as Matt Damon or Brad Pitt), the $25 million movie would have easily cost more than twice that, some $60 or 70 million. At that price, the studio was wise to let it go, but given its enthusiasm for the material, right to hang on to the right of first refusal. And still, after seeing an early cut the studio passed, according to a KCRW interview with producer David Hoberman. Relativity nabbed offers from three other studios before Paramount insisted on seeing the locked cut and then exercised its domestic theatrical and homevideo distribution rights. Kavanaugh held on to TV rights, which should pay off nicely.

Old Hollywood truisms hold firm on movies like this that are now heading into Oscar contention. Many players want to take credit for the film's success, from Kavanaugh, the man who saved and financed the film, to Paramount, which developed and refused to finance but eventually marketed and released the film, to producers like Hoberman.

Fact is, the studios can't afford to make these dramas at studio rates. Only the indies can. There's no way Bale would have worked for $250,000 and a bad back end on a studio film; in this case, he was willing to take a bet that he would come out ahead. With an Oscar win in his sights, he clearly made the right call. What's money against a long and stellar career with better choices going forward? More agents should be as canny as WME partner Patrick Whitesell, who has also been making some smart long-term moves on Ben Affleck's behalf (The Town grabbed a Globe supporting nom for Jeremy Renner).

But Paramount was well-fixed to release The Fighter domestically. While other studios have let their specialty divisions go, Paramount wisely held on to some of the marketers from Vantage who can still hand-hold special movies when necessary. And Kavanaugh's Relativity, going ahead, is taking on the role of distributor as well. Just financing and producing films wasn't enough for him, he says, when the distributors weren't as invested in his films' success as their own. Kavanaugh is bullish on his Netflix deal, which pays him more for the pay-TV window for The Fighter than HBO or Showtime pay the studios, while leaving him with less restrictions on electronic sell-through and pay-per-view.

Is Relativity the new economic model for a streamlined Hollywood? Or Graham King's FilmDistrict? Perhaps---if they can manage to balance commercial quality and costs with smart release plans. Many an independent has fallen down by taking on more than they can handle.

This article is related to: Awards, Box Office, Genres, Headliners, Independents, Studios, Interviews , Oscars, Golden Globes, Winter, Drama, Biopics, Action, Christian Bale, Relativity, Paramount/Vantage/Insurge/CBS


E-Mail Updates