Odin’s Eye will need more films after Warners deal
Sydney-based Michael Favelle will be acquiring more films for his sales agency Odin’s Eye Entertainment (OEE) as a result of his new deal with Warner Bros Digital Distribution.
“We have been acquiring eight to 12 films per year for the core international business and will now probably pick up 12 to 18 more, many of which will be documentaries,” Favelle told IF Magazine.
The Warner deal is for electronic sell through and video on demand distribution of films via cable, satellite and broadband platforms in North America – and this will be front-of-mind when Favelle is considering films because it may suit certain niche titles to be distributed in this way.
All sales agents are watching the changing way people consume films and are also very aware of how quickly a big advance can be quickly whittled away as a result of the distributor subtracting marketing and other expenses.
Favelle sees this deal as giving him flexibility within the potentially lucrative but complicated US market: he is splitting the rights for internet, pay and free-to-air television, DVD and distribution between many partners in an attempt to get better returns than if he were to sell them all to one US distributor.
“I’ve turned down a lot of distributor deals lately because I felt the property was undervalued and this way I’m ensuring good returns in the short term and right through the life of the film,” he said.
“We are not handing it over for many years or cashing it out. In essence, with this deal, we are cutting out the middleman. Many mid-tier US distributors go through a studio distributor for sell through and VOD.”
Warner is not obliged to take all OEE’s titles and OEE does not have to use Warners but the Australian company expects 20 films to go through the deal per year.
OEE is the only significant sales agent headquartered in Australia – although Arclight has a local office and there are some very minor players – and Favelle strongly believes that this has created a skills and knowledge gap, particularly among younger producers.
Over the last two years ScreenWest paid for several emerging producers to be at Cannes with OEE to better learn how the market operates in practical terms, and to improve their packaging and pitching skills.
In the past, the main federal funding agency has supported the establishment of sales agents in this territory.
OEE picks up films from across the world but its most successful is the Australian film Damned By Dawn. But, says Favelle: “Forbidden Ground, which is still in post, is performing exceptionally well and will undoubtedly become our highest earner.”