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ThinkFilm Turns Five

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For anyone in the film industry for the artistry of it, there are a dozen or more in it for the money. Too often, whether a film gets made and whether it gets in front of audiences depends on how much potential it has to make a dent in the bottom line.

Then a distributor like ThinkFilm comes along and knocks the whole delicate balance out of whack. The company is five years old now, and there's a quick feature at Hollywood Reporter about the occasion. What's perhaps been the most key ingredient for success is a staff who know what they're doing. Several founding members worked for "parent" Lions Gate; when the Lion packed up and headed to LA, more than a few remained in NYC with the intention of staying focused on independent film.

The 2001 launch was boosted by a quick acquisition of the doomed Blackwatch Releasing and the Canadian rights to all its films, including Last Wedding and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Acquisitions at Sundance in 2002 helped put ThinkFilm on the map, too; the company picked films th challenge audiences, like The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. It's exactly this type of movie that ThinkFilm is attracted to. Richard Pena, of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, summed it up thus: "Their audience is people who go to films to have their minds opened up, not to be pacified."

Still, money is a concern for any company, and ThinkFilm's had its share of scares. But U.S. Theatrical Head Mark Urman says it's how they use their money (and other resources) that's led to their relative longevity, using the summer release of Strangers with Candy as an example. Fewer prints were sent out, but the return on those prints outweighed some bigger releases.

The dedication to independent films isn't going anywhere. Shortbus (pictured) is in theaters now. Next month, Fuck hits theaters. Recently announced was the purchase of The Hip Hop Project, produced by Bruce Willis. The effect of independent film is useless if companies like ThinkFilm aren't around to get them seen; seems like a company with that committment will never have a problem finding an audience.


Posted by on October 31, 2006 7:36 AM
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