Sony Pictures Classics on the Verge of "Dreams" and "Tangos"; Company Co-Presidents Barker and Bernard Discuss Their Cannes Favorites
by Anthony Kaufman
At the opening night party of Hal Hartley's "Henry Fool," indieWIRE
caught up with Michael Barker and Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics.
While as of last night, no official acquisition announcements had been
made, sources claim that Sony Pictures Classics has made a deal with
the critically acclaimed competition film, "La Vie Revee Des Anges" (The Dream Life of Angels) from debuting director Erick Zonca. Buzz
has been good on the French film since its screening last Sunday, but
distributors have been waiting for the right deal. Barker told
indieWIRE he thought Zonka's first effort was "a wonderful film, just
wonderful. Directors like Erick Zonka are the real sign of the future
for European films. No question about it." Sony Pictures Classics hasn't
shied from French product in the past; the company will release first
time helmer Manuel Pradal's "Marie Baie des Anges" this July. Sony
will also likely also announce, sooner than later, the acquisition of Carlos
Saura's latest, luxurious dance pic "Tango" screening out of
competition this Friday. Barker confessed, "We're definitely working
and you'll hear about something very substantial soon."
Of this year's films, Barker is impressed with the American directors
and the French as well. Bernard added to their list of interests "a
little seen movie, [called] 'SLC Punk'. I think it's one of the secrets of
the festival, but they only had one screening. There's a lot of surprises
here and it's just as every year, you have to find them."
And what else are Barker and Bernard doing this week. Bernard said,
"We've been reading a lot of scripts. I don't think any of them are
worth 3 or 4 million dollars." And why such the high price tag?
Bernard explained, "With the new mini-majors like Miramax and the
wanna-be mini-majors like October, people are looking to try and cash in
on these people that want to emulate what a studio does, so they're
asking for studio prices with studio talent and they're really not
independent films; they're pushing low-budget studio movies. That's not
the business we're in. We're in the business of buying good movies that are
When asked whether they thought October might be annoucing pick-ups
merely to claim, "We've picked up three and they haven't picked up any?"
Barker replied, "You said it, I didn't. We wish them the best."
Lamenting the higher prices of films in this money-hungry marketplace,
Bernard said, "People are here to sell to get the maximum dollars, so
they're not going to sell a movie right away. They're going to hold out
to see if they can get the big money." Bernard continued, reflecting on
the business of this year's 51st Cannes, "A lot of sellers are standing
out in the hall, but I don't think they're interested in the mid-level
movies here. They want to put $4 or $5 million in and come up with the
next "Full Monty," rather than the next "In the Company of Men." People
are in a lot of different businesses, you got a lot of independent
companies that are into the video market place now. So they're looking
for video films, so they're not looking for the bread and butter of
Cannes which are the quality, mid-range type films."