Lights, camera, action! London's film fest launched
As Hollywood stars including Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock hit the red carpet in London for the capital's annual film festival, one British filmmaker told CNBC the film industry was undergoing a transformation that will allow it to survive.
"We're making lots of films and they're profitable," Robert Mitchell, chief executive officer of Intandem Films, saying that the media shouldn't judge the success of a film on box office takings alone.
The 57th London Film Festival was opened by Hanks on Wednesday night with the premiere of "Captain Phillips," in which he stars as a captain in the thriller of a U.S. cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates. As well as larger "blockbuster" type movies, such as space-thriller Gravity, the festival features smaller films, with 234 fiction and documentary features shown over the ten day event.
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Despite the large number of entrants into the festival, the future for the film industry as a whole is more opaque -- with films that would have previously been box office hits failing to meet the mark. The flop of Disney's film "The Lone Ranger" starring Johnny Depp caused the company to project up to a $190 million loss for film, it said in August.
Changes in consumer habits are an opportunity for film makers, according to Mitchell, however, who said that films now had more opportunities than ever to make money on various platforms beyond the traditional cinema complex.
Pay-per-view television services were now willing to pay "huge amounts of money upfront" to have the broadcasting rights to films, he said, and films should exploit an increasing number of platforms for their product all over the world.
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Variety reported on Thursday that Jerry Katzenburg , the chief executive of DreamWorks' Animation, had offered the makers of the hit series "Breaking Bad" $75 million to make three more episodes of the drama as part of his plans to create "a new way of watching quality short form entertainment" (his words to TV execs at the Mipcom Mart in Cannes six weeks ago).
He hoped to make the greatest "pay-per-view event ever" by breaking each of the three episodes into 6 minute sections with each webisode installment costing 50 to 99 cents.
Katzenburg's request was refused because the storyline had been set in stone, but Mitchell said new media would increasingly change the way films were delivered to consumers.
Mitchell was confident in the film industry's future however, telling CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange," that "wherever there is a platform they need content, wherever they need content they want films."
Insisting that investments in films could give a good return, Mitchell pointed to runaway box office success such as "The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire".
"Investors who put money into those films, from tens of thousands to half a million, then came out with a massive multiple of ten to twenty times of what they put in."
- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt