Responding to the tough outlook for most independent films, Pinnacle Films is moving away from releasing a large slate of small theatrical titles and instead plans to focus on two or three wide- release commercial films per year.
Augmenting that will be a handful of smaller overseas and local “passion projects” such as the Spierig brothers’ Predestination and Craig Monahan’s Healing.
Pinnacle now looks to pick up films with name casts that have a guaranteed wide release in the US, handled either by the major studios or the larger indies.
Its 2015 slate is headed by Autobahn, an action thriller starring Anthony Hopkins, Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Nicholas Hoult and Ben Kingsley; and The Legend of Barney Thomson, a comedy-thriller directed by and starring Robert Carlyle, with Emma Thompson and Ray Winstone.
“Our smaller films were struggling to get exposure with exhibitors, who have limited space for independent product, and often our titles were almost considered to be like fillers,” Pinnacle director Robert Kingston tells IF. “We were getting very unpredictable results.
“So six months ago we decided to go for films that are getting wide release in the US via the majors or the top independents, plus a few passion projects.”
Predestination finished up grossing $780,000 and Healing brought in $497,000. Kingston says, “Predestination was hard work and did quite well but not what we were hoping for. Healing had a soft launch and resonated in country areas but wasn’t where we felt it should have been with some sites admitting that they took the film off too early in its life cycle.
“Australians films are tough and very time consuming. This has always been the case so we are understandably hesitant about taking on Australian films.”
Due for wide release in September, Autobahn follows a young US couple, Casey (Hoult) and Juliette (Jones) who are plunged into a game of cat-and-mouse across Germany when they find themselves caught between two ruthless criminals played by Hopkins and Kingsley. It will be supported by a big P&A campaign designed to cut through to multiplex audiences.
The Legend of Barney Thomson, which features Carlyle as a socially awkward Glaswegian barber living a dull life with his wife and mother until he crosses the path of a deranged serial killer, will open on about 40 screens
Set for 2016 is Inversion, a sci-fi epic with a $200 million budget from director Scott Waugh (Need for Speed), which follows two unlikely heroes, a young Chinese scientist and a street smart American expat, on a frenzied journey across the globe to save Earth from an apocalyptic threat – a reversal of gravity that causes whole cities and civilizations to plummet into the sky.
Also on the 2016/17 slate is Tiger’s Curse, an adventure film based on the first in a series of best-selling novels by Colleen Houck, adapted by Julie Plec (creator of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals), to be directed by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth).
Replicas is a sci-fi thriller starring Keanu Reeves as a daring neuroscientist who, after a car accident kills his family, will stop at nothing to bring them back, pitting himself against a government-controlled laboratory, a police task force and the physical laws of science. It’ll be directed by Tanya Wexler (Hysteria) and produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura (G.I. Joe, Transformers).
Pinnacle’s home entertainment division has enjoyed solid growth in both VOD and EST revenues. “We recently sold a large batch of library titles to Netflix’s Australian service, which is due to launch in late March and we are negotiating a deal with Stan, the Nine Entertainment/Fairfax Media subscription streaming service,” Kingston says.