WB Features Newsletter: How did movies win audiences back this summer?

Experience vs. Convenience. There’s something to be said about watching a film at the cinema, rather than just streaming it on your phone or laptop. From the intimacy of connecting with a character on a three-story screen to being surrounded by a group of people with a shared array of emotions - audiences are driven by sharable experiences, powerful messages, and good storytelling. And this summer we were reminded of that.
Up 11% from last year, the 2018 summer box office hasn't just turned out to be better than 2017; but it’s possible the industry could reach a new record level. So, what was so different from this summer season compared to last?

People want to join the conversation

This isn’t just an issue of box office numbers. It’s about what’s driving “the conversation”
While the matter of how well blockbusters do is fundamental to the life of the industry, independent films have played a major role in driving audiences to the movies. True, the amount of revenue they generate — $20 million here, $40 million there, another $10 million over there — may not seem like much compared to the whopping numbers generated by the sci-fi/action/fantasy/franchise/ monster sequel mega-smash of the week. Yet the stubborn success of movies on that underlying tier adds up to a thrilling and highly significant story about what audiences now want to go out to the movies to see. They want to see an enveloping drama like “Eighth Grade” (domestic gross thus far: $11.5 million), They want to see “Sorry to Bother You” ($16 million), a down-and-dirty surrealist fairy tale of African-American desire and ambition in a world overtaken by commerce. They want to sink into the briny depths of racial animosity in “BlacKkKlansman” ($23 million), and they want to experience the glory of what diversity in entertainment really means by reveling in the narcotic banquet of glitzy over-the-top wealth porn and delicately intense and moving love story that is “Crazy Rich Asians” ($34 million).

(Source: Variety)

Audiences want to hear the female voice

In August alone, three of some of the best indie films about (and, in this case, by women) have opened to the welcoming embrace of specialty audiences looking to see something that doesn’t necessarily involve another superhero or another franchise.” Desiree Akhavan’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” topped out at $53,000 over a single weekend in only two theaters; Josephine Decker’s “Madeline’s Madeline” made over $20,000 in its first weekend of release — in just one city, in just one theater — while Crystal Moselle’s “Skate Kitchen” made over $17K using the same steadily expanding release strategy. And studio films centered around — and mostly marketed to — women have also succeeded, from “Ocean’s 8” to “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” proving there’s enough interest to go around. Women (and people of color) are a major force at the box office.

(SOURCE: Indiewire)

Hollywood has also concocted the perfect formula for sequels

What everyone can agree on is that the 2018 box office has also been fueled by the success of movie sequels this summer, which in past years have not done so well. But in 2018 it seems Hollywood concocted the perfect formula of franchises audiences wanted to see — “The Avengers,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Incredibles,” “Deadpool,” “Jurassic World” — and followed through by making good sequels.  

(SOURCE: Business Insider)

Celebrate the return of the big screen with us at Script to Screen Summit in two weeks!
What’s next for Skydance Media?  
We are excited to announce that Jesse Sisgold will be speaking at Confluence Summit on October 25th! As President and Chief Operating Officer of Skydance Media, Jesse Sisgold has played an instrumental role in growing the company into a multi-faceted media powerhouse and here’s how:

 - 2015: Oversaw the formation of Skydance’s initial global television distribution pact with Lionsgate, resulting in the launch of Skydance International.
 - 2016: Led Skydance’s first acquisition to form Skydance Interactive and secured a $700 million recapitalization to enable continued growth and expansion.
 - 2017: Facilitated a multi-year renewal of Skydance’s first-look production and global distribution deal with Paramount, while also helping to create a slate partnership with Ilion Animation, leading to the launch of Skydance Animation.
 - 2018: Formed a broad strategic partnership with Tencent Holdings Ltd to bolster Skydance’s footprint in China for its films, television, gaming and virtual reality sectors.
 - October 25, 2018: Sisgold will be speaking at Winston’s Baker Confluence Summit on what’s next for Skydance Media.

Stay tuned as we announce more Confluence Summit speakers!

Can artificial intelligence predict the success of stories?

We are excited to kick-off the 5th Zurich Summit by announcing a line-up of leading data experts who are at the forefront of using technology to get great stories told.  

Nadira Azermai, CEO, Script.Book will be introducing her innovative technology as a tool that helps studios avoid financial loss by utilizing artificial intelligence to proof scripts. Dr. Sebastian Wernicke, Chief Data Scientist of ONE LOGIC, will also join the conversation to offer a different perspective by revealing how data can be used to create better strategies and spur creativity. While Script.Book relies primarily on hard science and data to guide decisions, Dr. Wenicke argues that data is great for making decisions but it should never drive the whole decision-making process.

Join the great debate on September 29-30th at the Zurich Summit!
Meet Gary Pearl  

Gary Pearl is an executive producer of the Award-Winning CW series “Jane The Virgin” as well as the CEO of Aquarius Content, a film, television and content creation company. Most recently, Pearl produced “Jeremiah Terminator Leroy,” starring Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Jim Sturgess and Diane Kruger, which will be featured at the closing night Gala Premiere during the 2018 Toronto Film Festival (TIFF). Currently, Pearl has films and television projects in development with talent including Golden Globe winner Ava DuVernay and Academy Award winner Pamela Wallace, and will be making a directorial debut with “Michigan House”in 2019. Pearl has also been involved in many off-screen projects including the 2018 Broadway productions of “The Cher Show”and the Broadway transfer of “The Ferryman”directed by Sam Medes. In addition, he is currently working on a stage production based on the book “Flowers in the Attic,”which is scheduled to open the 2020 season.

Hear from Gary and other award-winning industry dealmakers on September 7th in Toronto.