The Hamptons International Film Festival paid tribute to trailblazing British production company Working Title Films over the weekend with a special panel that featured co-chairs Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and two filmmakers synonymous with the company’s long-standing success, Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “The World’s End”) and Richard Curtis (“Love Actually,” “About Time”).
The hour-long discussion, moderated by Rajendra Roy (MoMA’s chief curator of the department of film), touched upon the early days of the company and how their films have gone on to collectively gross more than $6 billion worldwide. For our money, the most noteworthy part of the talk came near the end, when Roy asked the four what they made of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ dire collective prediction that the film industry is heading for an implosion that could lead to dramatically higher ticket prices and fewer films being released theatrically, one echoed by Steven Soderbergh in his now infamous “State of Cinema” address from the San Francisco Film Festival. (For the full rundown of the panel head on over to The Playlist.)
“It’s a lot more difficult that it was,” Bevan admitted. “It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the way the movie business is evolving.”
“In terms of the industry itself,” Fellner added, “if we were to dare to make a comment, it;s that we live in a digital age. Our industry needs to acknowledge it and deal with the window issue. I think that is a discussion that needs to be more prevalent on every single level. It is the big issue we’re all staring at and some of us are putting our heads in the sand.”
Curtis, for his part, says that he remains optimistic based on the great work he’s seen this year. “We’re living in a golden age,” he said. “There’s this bizarre stat that all the greatest films came out between the ages of 17 and 23. I keep seeing things and think that extraordinary films are still being made.”
The same goes for Wright. “Smart movies and commercial movies are not mutually exclusively,” he said, “and ‘Gravity’ is proof of that. I just feel fortunate to make every movie, full stop. I treat every movie like it’s my last.”
“From my point of view, I never get blasé about the future,” Wright added. “I just want to do the best job I can. I want to keep making films. Sometimes when the business looks like it’s in trouble you just feel fortunate you’re lucky enough to put out films. It’s not a bleak future.”