What Comic Con is to comic nerds, The American Film Market is to producing/salesman nerds… like myself. Each and every year the company I work for (Push Distribution) has a little stand down there at the Santa Monica nucleus where we – usually productively – promote and subsequently sell our latest titles (It’s amazing how many distributors have a penchant for giant eel movies!). And we’re not alone – there’s about two hundred other companies flogging their product, too. Some of those companies are big, some small… some aren’t companies at all (in fact my producing partner Christopher Showerman and I were there year before last as, simply, a couple of independent producers – talking to potential prospectives about a horror film we were producing at the time). But by-and-large, most of the cats that have a stand at the AFM aren’t connected to the majors…which is why they’re having to go a market to sell their product.
Warner Bros doesn’t need to be there, for example, because their film already has a home… Warner Bros. And you’re unlikely to find New Line down there either… because their films are distributed through the WB, too. What you’ll find, on any given day, are a horde of little-known production companies – like Westend films, United Pictures, Tandem Communications, Sahamonkolfilm International, Rialto Distribution – working the room, drawing attention to their table, offering punters the chance to preview their fim/s…. and usually, nobody has to blow anyone to wet a contract.
Sure, some of the big guns are still there with their product – Nu Image/Millenium usually have a presence there, Halycon International too – but mainly, you’re wheeling and dealing with companies whose titles features the likes of Michael Madsen, Vinnie Jones, Dolph Lundgren, and Jason Mewes. In other words, you can also play â€˜Spot the Blockbuster rep’ at AFM pretty easily, too.
Just been reading through my form guide for this year’s AFM, and a few titles have caught my attention, so I thought – being the nice, but slightly fucked-up web journalist I am – you guys might appreciate hearing what’s up for sale this year. As you’ll see below, some of the product ranges from the huge (“Rambo V”) to the miniscule (“Street Boss” starring â€˜Big Pussy’ from “The Sopranos”). And I don’t doubt any of the following will sell…. Yes, even the thing with Luke Perry in it.
Rambo 5 – Nu Image/Millennium Films will be selling shares in the latest bullet-in-the-abdomen commercial. The flyer says the Sylvester Stallone is now in pre-production, which means it’ll be the big guy’s next film. I’m assuming Lionsgate have the U.S rights in the bag – since they released “Rambo” – but I’m not certain. Either way, if you represent a Croatian distributor, and know there’s an audience out there who’d kill to see another protein shake advert headlined by a 65-year-old mass of mutton, then pull up a seat…. Avi Lerner has a number he wants to show you.
Creepshow 3D – The â€˜geniuses’ (too strong a word?) at Taurus are developing a second sequel to the Stephen King classic (if you saw their first sequel, you’ll know this isn’t probably something pre-booking tickets for) – this one in the ever-so-trendy 3-D format. “C3D” is merely in development, but apparently there’s already offers on the table to distribute it.
The Gold Retrievers – Steve Guttenberg. Curtis Armstrong. Horror. Need I say more? (OK, how much for an ounce? And will it improve viewing?)
Dorothy of Oz – Title says it all… what it doesn’t say is that a Ghostbuster (Dan Aykroyd) and a barfly (Kelsey Grammer) lend their lungs to it. Animated flick that’ll likely sell before ten am the first morning of AFM.
All Of It – Talented-lass Gillian Armstrong’s new film. Liam Neeson headlines. In pre-production. Arclight won’t have any trouble selling this one…. And may have already done so, I hear.
The Chase – Arclight are also looking to trade some greenbacks for this new action-adventure from “Die Hard” director John McTiernan. Again, will sell before cameras even roll on it. No wiretapping needed.
Criminal Empire for Dummies – A Cliff Dorman-directed thriller starring Chris Evans (“Fantastic Four”) and Rachel Bilson (“The Last Kiss”). Don’t know much about this one, but the young, spunky cast should see it finds a new home rather quickly. Would probably even go quicker if it features a strip scene by its female lead.
Ollie the Otter – The new â€˜Karate Kid’ Jaden Smith lends his lungs to this Canadian animated flick. No doubt American Cinema International will be letting everyone know that â€˜the star of this one is going to be huge in a year’s time’ as they hand them a copy of the teaser trailer… should they have one ready.
Princess Of Mars /Sherlock Holmes– Asylum are at it again! Two cheap rip-off’s of impending blockbusters headed our way! And you know you’ll bloody watch them when they’re broadcast, too! “Mars” stars Sci-Fi Channel fave Antonio Sabato Jr, and rumpy pumpy vet Traci Lords; “Sherlock Holmes” – timed to coincide with the much kinder budgeted Robert Downey Jr version – stars Gareth David-Lloyd. Both will probably go cheap… and straight to your stomach.
Gladiators Vs. Werewolves – I’ll take two!
Obsession – A New William Hurt thriller currently in development at U.K’s AV Pictures. Hurt’s still got the name… this will go quick. But change the fucking title! It’s as overdone as a cheap steak!
Opposites Attract – Bold Films (“Bobby”) will be tooting the horn of this new Jay â€˜Super Troopers’ Chandrsekhar comedy that they’ve currently got in pre-production. Bold also have Joe Dante’s “The Hole” and the action-adventure “Spy High” up for grabs. Unfortunately none of â€˜em have the cast “Bobby” had.
In The Eyes of a Killer – The highly-anticipated teaming of Costas and Louis Mandylor. Louis is behind the camera for this one. Assuming it’s a thriller.
Down and Dirty Pictures – Vincent D’Onofrio and Andy â€˜Gollum’ Serkis in a new Ken Bowser-directed comedy from Celsius Entertainment. Don’t know much about it, only that it’s just entering its pre-production phase now. Like the title…. Hope it doesn’t say anything about the prodcuct.
Bait in 3D – Yep, another three-dimensional goosebump-evoker; this one from “Razorback” helmer Russell Mulcahy and Darclight Films. Mulcahy has another film being promoted at AFM too – the thriller “The Loved Ones”, starring Xavier Samuel (“The Twilight Saga’s Eclipse”), and also from Darclight. Looks like Russ might be able to throw Christmas at his place this year. (Bait Synopsis : In a sleepy coastal resort community, shoppers at an underground supermarket find themselves terrorized by a crazed bandit when the unimaginable occurs… A monstrous freak tsunami swallows the town. Now trapped inside a flooded supermarket with an armed maniac and rushing water threatening to entomb them all in a watery grave, tensions mount, tempers snap, and the imprisoned band of survivors discover the threat from without has ignited an even more immediate threat from within. Their own desire to survive whatever the cost. However as hostilities reach breaking point the survivors discover they are not alone. The tsunami has brought some unwanted visitors from the depths, and as the waters rise they must overcome not only the threat of drowning and the human menace within their midst, but a threat more deadly than both and far more bloodthirsty… packs of hungry tiger sharks).
Mr Bones 2 : Back from the Past – I pity the chaps who get suckered into screening this pup… unless, of course, they bullied the computer geeks at school.
St Trinians : The Legend of Friton’s Gold – Ealing Studios International are promoting the Rupert Everett/Colin Firth-starring sequel. Shingle has a product reel and trailer to screen punters…. Yep, that’ll do the trick! Heh. (Firth… Why!?)
Keep it Together – Rom-Com Vet Dermot Mulroney directs Christopher Walken and Jessica Alba in a new laffer. Echo Bridge won’t have anything to show punters, since it hasn’t started filming yet, but no doubt this’ll be one of those titles that sells on name (or in this case, â€˜norgs’) alone.
Remnants – A Jason Behr/Jena Malone-starring thriller, about to enter pre-production, that Eclectic Film Sales will be championing at the AFM. Behr’s presence doesn’t say much, but Malone’s does. Might it go theatrical?
The Harvest – John McNaughton (“Henry : Portrait of a Serial Killer”) will direct this thriller for Elephant Eye Films. Yet to find a home… but will no doubt find one next week, based on McNaughton’s back catalogue.
Sleepless Beauty – A family comedy starring Meg Ryan and Ashley Tisdale? Do you even need to ask whether this will sell?
State of the Union – A comedy from box-office king, Garry Marshall (“Pretty Woman”, “Beaches”). Won’t have to prostitute itself to find a place to lay its head.
Waco – A new action-adventure from director Rupert Wainwright. In pre-production, so there’ll be no footage to show, but good creative talent behind the megaphone. Should appeal.
The Diplomat – Essential’s Kevin Costner/Paul Walker thriller already has an offer. No surprise. America loves Costner like they love warm dick.
Sam Steele and the Junior Detective Agency – Starring Luke Perry. Something for “Family Guy” to spoof later on, perhaps?
Universal Soldier : A New Beginning – I assume that Sony or Universal will pick this up, since they released the previous two movies in the franchise (in different territories), but nonetheless the Van Damme/Lundgren sequel will no doubt be one of the more popular offerings of the AFM and will definitely walk away with a home. I’m curious to know just how much of the film Van Damme and Lundgren actually appear in though – because although the studio are using their names to sell the film (as you would too), word is both guys are only in a handful of scenes.
The Shock Labyrinth 3D – God, I hope 3-D doesn’t get too old, too quick. This is Takashi Shimizu’s latest. Should be better than “Creepshow 3D” – no guarantees. Okay… I’ll guarantee it.
Twelve – Joel Schumacher flick. All-star ensemble cast includes such noteworthy types as Kiefer Sutherland and Emma Roberts. Gaumont will sell this right off the bat….unless, of course, the mock teaser poster says â€˜from the director of Batman & Robin’ on it.
Son of No One – This’ll be a hot title; Channing Tatum and Robert De Nro. Dito Montiel (“Fighting”) directs. An action-adventure that lenses shortly. Not much info on it here…
Humpty Dumpty – A horror flick from “The Final Destination” director David R. Ellis. Still in development, but I’ve seen some funky conceptual drawings and teaser posters hanging around.
Death’s Requiem – A new Australian thriller, still in development, starring “Box Office superstar” Sam Worthington and “that guy from Underworld” Scott Speedman. Don’t know much about it, but I’ll see what I can find out before next week. (Update! : We were contacted and let known that “Requiem” is based on a short film of the same name; a supernatural thriller about a comic-book artist who, after a near death experience, starts to experience hellish visions).
Elevator – Michael Madsen is headed downunder to star opposite local girl Victoria Hill (“Macbeth”) in this Danny Demoreta-directed thriller.
Billy Joel’s Car – Jason Mewes is Eddie, America Olivo is Brenda, and Corbin Bernsen is Captain Jack. And I bet you this sells too! (Mewes has a couple of titles being promoted at the AFM; another is “Heated Rivalry”, a comedy in which Smitty’s bro joins forces with Fred Williamson). Does Billy Joel even have a car though? Aren’t we talking about a stretch limo?
I Ride Alone – Peter Fonda and Talia Shire in a drama from Rock On! Films.
Passion Play – A new drama starring Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox. God, I want to see this NOW, Don’t you!? (Maybe even more so than the drama starring Hulk Hogan and Talia Shire)
Hawk the Hunter – Now that he’s been cast as the new Mad Max, Tom Hardy’s name alone see that this U.K action-adventure finds a home rather quickly.
As you can see there’s a heap of fantastic and fucktastic flicks up for grabs at the AFM – and there’s heaps more…. Gemma Arterton is starring in a new Stephen Frears pic called “Tamara Drewe”; Mira Sorvino and Peter Fonds are in a family film called “Smitty”; Danny Trejo and Dee Wallace are in a family film (!) called “No Sit List”; Reggie Bannister’s in a thing called “Sawblade”; Estella Warren headlines the Aus/U.S remake of “Beauty and the Beast” for American World Pictures; Dolph Lundgren’s newie “Icacrus” is up for sale; and the late David Carradine features in a flick called “El Dorado” that’s up for grabs. And since my hand is sore from typing, that’ll do you….
A Horde of Australian Films – No, that’s not the title of a movie, that’s me being lazy and lumping all the Australian films on offer at AFM all together… because there’s just so fucking many of them. Everything from “Beautiful Kate” to “Charlie & Boots”, “Going Downunder” (a comedy starring Johnny Boxer and Austen Tayshus), and the upcoming Geena Davis/Joel Tobeck comedy “Accident’s Happen” will be promoted like a leather sale at a whore house come next week.
Oh, and there’s…
A blister on my finger.