AFM 2021 Goes Old School with Action, Star-Driven Titles – The Hollywood Reporter

There was a way of Nineteen Nineties nostalgia on the 2021 American Movie Market.

Technically this yr’s AFM, with its Zoom conferences, on-demand screenings, digital keynotes and discussions, was cutting-edge. However the tasks on supply and the celebrities attracting essentially the most consideration at AFM 2021 felt very old skool.

Capstone’s Silent Evening, a dialogue-free thriller set to star The Suicide Squad actor Joel Kinnaman and directed by motion legend John Woo, marking his first English-language characteristic in over a decade, offered out in a number of territories inside hours of it being unveiled to AFM patrons.

An extended listing of by-the-numbers motion films, most of them that includes greying stars from the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties — Liam Neeson in Eire-set thriller In The Land of Saints And Sinners, Dolph Lundgren as director and star in Millennium-backed motion pic Needed Man, the hitman thriller Quick Charlie starring Pierce Brosnan, Mel Gibson in ticking-bomb actioner Sizzling Seat — have been among the titles flying off the (digital) cabinets at AFM 2021. Whereas some could finally come to a theater close to you, these are films designed — with their recognizable stars and clear style positioning — to play nicely for residence leisure.

There have been just a few AFM titles, resembling Lionsgate’s John Wick spin-off Ballerina, which has No Time to Die star Ana De Armas circling as a doable lead, that are clearly positioned as theatrical releases, however with rising COVID instances throughout the U.S. and far of Europe stoking fears of one other cinema shut down this winter, impartial patrons are betting on films they will simply promote on to a streamer or hawk on to followers through video-on-demand.

“Everyone seems to be taking a look at tasks with not simply theatrical in thoughts, however what the longer life into the ancillary markets shall be,” says Gabrielle Stewart, managing director of HanWay Movies. “There’s little or no risk-taking.”

HanWay secured a number of pre-sales on Paul Schrader’s crime-thriller Grasp Gardener, that includes Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver, together with offers with Germany’s Leonine, The Jokers in France and VVS Movies in Canada, on the again of the all-star solid and the excitement round Schrader’s newest launch, the Oscar Isaac/Tiffany Haddish drama The Card Counter.

“What we’re seeing, and have been seeing for some time, is that distributors are taking quite a bit longer to do offers,” says Stewart. “Negotiations begin nicely earlier than the markets and so they usually proceed on lengthy afterward.”

Relating to the theatrical enterprise, Stewart says the impartial market is “nonetheless determining” what influence COVID can have and whether or not older audiences — the goal group for a lot indie cinema, explicit artwork home films — will return in pressure post-pandemic.

“I’m nonetheless very optimistic, and I’m shopping for films for each theatrical and VOD launch [in Russia],” says Nadezda Motina, a veteran acquisitions government who launched a stand-alone indie distributor, Arna Media for the Russian market simply forward of AFM 2021. “But it surely has grow to be very tough to seek out industrial titles on the impartial market. The studios are making extra worldwide offers, taking massive films off the market, and the streamers are shopping for every little thing up. When Netflix sees there’s a brand new Pedro Almodovar movie popping out, they exit and get it.” (Netflix is releasing Almodovar’s upcoming characteristic, Parallel Moms).

With Arna Media, Motina hopes to get earlier entry to indie movies by approaching board as an fairness investor and producer on the script stage, a mannequin utilized by many regional distributors.

“You see it in virtually each main territory: the large distributors are producing their very own films,” she says. “It’s the one strategy to compete.”

Brian Beckmann, CFO at Arclight Movies, mentioned enterprise on the 2021 AFM has been “excellent, very brisk” with a powerful response for Arclight’s upcoming thriller The Locksmith, starring Ryan Phillippe, Kate Bosworth and Ving Rhames, and fantasy drama The Transportable Door with Christoph Waltz, however he’s extra skeptical a couple of theatrical bounce again for the indies.

“When theaters first started to open up however earlier than the studios have been releasing their films once more, there was some alternative [for independents],” he notes. “We launched [Brandon Cronenberg-directed] Possessor with Neon and [Ellen Burstyn/James Cann-starrer] Queen Bees with Gravitas Ventures and so they did nicely, perhaps higher than they might have if there wasn’t a pandemic [but] you’ll be able to see the studios now are coming again and gobbling up most of these theatrical slots, making it quite a bit more durable to get an impartial movie on the market [into cinemas].”

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