Thursday, March 08, 2007

A small budget for a bestseller movie production

It has been fascinating me for days now. The Dutch financial daily FD published a front page article (in Dutch) on an unknown film production company Dynamic Entertainment (DEH) on Monday. This is rare for the FD front-page, which is usually filled with boardroom news and rumours as well as news about losses of millions of euro.

The message was that a Dutch movie company has picked up the movie rights to a novel by the British bestseller author. This is rather surprising as presently Dutch movie companies are chasing after the movie rights on Dutch novels. But the Dutch production company has acquired the movie rights to Philip Pullman’s novel Butterfly Tattoo, previously published as The White Mercedes.

The Butterfly Tattoo tells the tale of two young lovers kept apart by faith, not to be reunited till Jenny is dead in a pool of her own blood due to Chris’s na├»ve actions. The book features all elements seen in contemporary dramatic films such as Cruel Intentions and the 2004 Romeo and Juliet film. Unreachable love, deceptive antagonists posing as good fellows, subtle violence, and, most importantly a protagonist’s mistakes leading to great tragedy are all featured in this action packed novel that reads like a film.

But another aspect was also fascinating: the amount of capital needed for the movie. You would think that millions would be needed. But the company only asked 200.000 euro. This morning the company sent a message telling that already 160.000 euro had been underwritten.

The fascination remains mainly as to the production and marketing. How are they going to do this? From the information given in the FD article and in the bi-lingual, it becomes clear that the producers play two cards: working with young people, movie amateurs and small independent movie companies; slipstream marketing.

DEH will make room for young people to become part of the production. It will also offer some youngsters a chance to get involved and help with the activities like setting up lights and producing photographs. The aim also is to let other people than the cast and crew share in production.

The movie will be a low budget movie in stark contrast with the movie adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel The Golden Compass. This movie is being produced by New Line Cinema, owned by Time Warner, and producers of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Golden Compass production has an estimated budget of 150 million US dollar and a marketing budget of 80 million US dollar. This movie will hit the theatres in the 2007 holiday season; two sequels are planned for 2009 and 2011. In comparison to this type of money, a production budget of 200.000 euro is peanuts.

Yet DEH will make use of all the publicity which will surround the launch of The Golden Compass. It will use slipstream marketing, referring to the successful movie, based on the novel of the same bestseller author.

DEH got a fast start financially. But in the end, everything will depend on the reviews and crowds (or lack of it) visiting the movie theatres.

Blog Posting Number: 686

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