Warner Brothers Overflowing With Too Many Movies - Dumping RocknRolla?
An interesting dilemma has hit Warner Brothers - they've got too many movies. As everyone probably knows, New Line Cinema caved in under Warner Brothers back in February and Warner Independent Pictures was also scrapped back in May. This shift caused dozens of New Line and Warner Independent films to get swept under the canopy of Warner Brothers and as COO Alan Horn explains, it just became too much. This was initially supposed to be a quiet procedure and Warner Brothers would sell off a few of the films or move them around to fit them in. However, some sources started speaking out about Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla, a film produced by Joel Silver, that was getting shopped around by Silver to other studios. So now the plot thickens and Horn speaks out about the situation - and it doesn't look good for RocknRolla.
It was Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times that investigated deeper into this story. He explains that "as Warners goes through the arduous process of absorbing two dozen or so New Line films into its distribution system, the studio simply has too many movies to release, so it's starting to pick out the weak calves from the herd." And RocknRolla is one of the big ones being herded out. Here's where we get down to the nitty-gritty of it all. Alan Horn explains his reasoning behind their dilemma. "I think it's a well-made picture, but while it's funny in spots, it's very English. I don't think it's broadly commercial. It feels like a film that deserves a spirited release, but not a wide one. Joel has an 800-screen deal, which we'll honor, but we might not be willing to spend the marketing money he wants us to."
While I'm not a studio executive with years of experience, I've always thought some of the decisions studios have made to give up hope on particular films have been idiotic, to say the least. Children of Men is one of the best examples of a film that was drowned by the studio. While I think RocknRolla looks great, I'm not so confident about its mainstream attraction. Obviously Joel Silver wants to make sure RocknRolla gets the attention it deserves. Horn adds: "For now, we're preparing to release the film in October, but I don't see it starting out on 800 screens. If Joel is thinking there is someone out there willing to spend twice as much money as we're willing to, I'm sure he will pursue that." That would explain Silver's recent screenings with Sony and Lionsgate, two distributors that would potentially be able to handle the film a bit better.
Beyond RocknRolla, two other notable films are also being kicked out: Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire and Gavin O'Connor's Pride and Glory. We just debuted a new trailer for Pride and Glory last week, originally a New Line film, and at the time Warner Brothers announced a new release date - October 24th. However, it sounds like both films are being dumped off to another studio because, as we've already outlined, Warners doesn't want to deal with them anymore in the midst of their already full fall line-up. Obviously Warner Brothers is a business and Alan Horn is making the best decisions for the good of the company, but it's still rather alarming to hear about this whole dilemma.
I've been saying quite a bit recently that Warner Brothers is one of the best studios in Hollywood alongside of Paramount. Not only are most of their films always top notch, but their marketing and publicity teams are the best. On one hand, I'm impressed that they literally have too many good movies that they can't distribute all of them. And the good side of this is that instead of completely scrapping them for a straight-to-DVD release, they're respecting their potential and hoping they'll be better suited elsewhere. However, on the other hand, it's sad to see such respectable films be completely shrugged off (literally) by a studio. I would love to see RocknRolla get a big marketing push like it deserves, so if Warners can't do it, just move it elsewhere. Head over to the Los Angeles Times to read Patrick's full article.