The independent film world can be brutal and there’s a high mortality rate for companies looking to break into the movie business. Over the past year, the likes of Broad Green, Alchemy, and Relativity Media have either scaled back their operations or shut off the lights entirely.
But Bold Films, the producer of “Nightcrawler” and “Whiplash,” believes that betting on auteurs is the key to its longevity. Now in its 14th year, it has inked “first look” deals with Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Productions and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Nine Stories Productions, and it’s preparing to unveil its most ambitious slate yet, a series of films featuring the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Keira Knightley, and Dev Patel.
Over the past two years, Bold has moved from buying packages, the industry term for films that agents cobble together with scripts and talent attached, to ramping up its in-house productions.
“The package market is thin,” said Bold Films CEO Gary Michael Walters. “The number of ready-to-go projects is quite limited, which is strategically driving us to become much more active in developing our own projects.”
The company has also been willing to write bigger checks. It’s gone from backing low-budget indies to supporting larger productions in the $8 million to $40 million range. Walters believes the higher production values are an important way to stand out at a time when people are skipping multiplexes to stay home and watch Netflix.
Bold Films has another key difference. In recent years, Hollywood has gotten enamored of Chinese money, but a box office slowdown in the Middle Kingdom combined with a capital crackdown, has curbed foreign investment. Bold doesn’t have that problem. The company is wholly backed Michel Litvak, a Belgian industrialist. Walters says his support and creative insights are the key to making Bold work, praising Litvak’s passion for “outstanding, original storytelling.”
Not everything Bold has…