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COMPANY TOWN; The Economics of Independents; Specialized Movies Are All the Rage These Days for Major Studios
Home Edition
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Motion picture industry
Author: Eller, Claudia
Date: Jan 31, 1997
Start Page: 4
Section: Business; PART-D; Financial Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

It's once again in vogue either to own a distribution company that markets and releases independently made, sophisticated movies--as Disney has with Miramax Films--or have an in-house unit that fulfills the same purpose--as Sony has with its Classics division, and Fox has with Searchlight Films. And PolyGram owns Gramercy Pictures, which was formerly a joint venture with Universal Pictures.

Warner Bros., which never followed the trend of having a "classics" division, is the only Hollywood studio that has no interest in aggressively pursuing the independent business other than releasing the occasional specialized film. (Warner's parent, Time Warner, is in the process of trying to sell its autonomously run New Line, which has a specialized film unit, Fine Line Features.)

"Our plate is full," says Warner Bros. co-Chairman Robert Daly. "We're not in the market to buy something and have no intention of setting up a separate distribution organization. . . . When you're a major betting as big as we're betting, we want management focused on those 25 or 30 movies, but obviously we'd love to have two or three {specialized films} a year." The studio has released some successful independent films over the years, including "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Chariots of Fire," though it recently missed with the widely panned "Surviving Picasso."

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