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DAILY NEWS: HBO and Newmarket Team Up on “Real Women”; and PBS Expands Independent Lens

DAILY NEWS: HBO and Newmarket Team Up on "Real Women"; and PBS Expands Independent Lens

DAILY NEWS: HBO and Newmarket Team Up on "Real Women"; and PBS Expands Independent Lens

by Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

>> “Real Women Have Curves” to Hit Theaters Via Joint HBO/Newmarket Effort; Move Comes as Cable-Branded Arthouse Distribution Outfits Emerge

(indieWIRE: 08.01.02) — A shift in strategy at HBO will bring an acclaimed
festival favorite to movie theaters this fall. Patricia Cardoso‘s “Real
Women Have Curves
,” one of the cable network’s lower budget,
independent-minded projects, was a hit at Sundance this year (winning the
dramatic audience award and a special jury award for actors America Ferrera
and Lupe Ontiveros). Until now, though, the company was against making a
theatrical deal for the picture. This week, all that changed with the news that HBO will release the movie theatrically under the HBO Films banner in a deal with the newly established Newmarket distribution company that will be headed by Bob Berney. The film will hit theaters in October.

This development comes as cable networks like HBO, IFC and (soon) Showtime are exploiting theatrical opportunities for their original productions,
while at the same time redefining their own brand names.

Despite considerable interest among acquisitions executives, HBO Films
president Colin Callender and Vice President of Independent Productions Maud Nadler (who oversees HBO’s movies made outside the system) have steadfastly maintained that films like “Real Women,” and last year’s “Stranger Inside,” would only air on HBO and would never be sold for theatrical distribution.
The goal, it seemed, was to make HBO the exclusive place to see these acclaimed low-budget efforts.

In the case of “Real Women Have Curves,” a negative pick-up for the cable
company, HBO has forgone interest from companies including United Artists
and Goldwyn, in order to keep their name front and center in the film’s release. And in signing a deal with the new unnamed Newmarket venture helmed by Bob Berney, they gain the expertise of a distribution executive who has had success with a Spanish language hit (“Y Tu Mama Tambien“). “We are still resistant to selling a film outright to a distributor,” HBO’s Maud Nadler told indieWIRE yesterday, calling her pact with Newmarket a collaboration. “This is a way to reach out to another part of the marketplace,” she added.

“We will stay really focused on working with interesting filmakers and
making movies no one else is making,” Nadler added in the conversation with
indieWIRE, “We will focus on that and figure the rest out as we go along.”
Continuing, Nadler reinforced that she plans to continue working with
independent filmmakers and showcasing emerging talent.

While Bob Berney helped Jonathan Sehring and team launch the successful IFC
Films label, this deal with HBO puts him in business with a rival cable
outlet’s distribution imprint. IFC has established a strong name in
low-budget productions with films like “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Our Song,”
while not limiting its financing to cable-only movies and also selling some
of its productions to other distribution companies. Additionally, last week
word hit that Showtime is also joining the fray. While no deals are ready to
be announced, a Variety story reported that the cable network (which also
runs the Sundance Channel) is launching an initiative to finance a slate of
films under $1 million. The films are targeted to the theatrical marketplace.

“Real Women Have Curves,” a Latina story set in East L.A., is based on a
play by writer Josefina Lopez. It is Cardoso’s feature directorial debut
following a Student Academy Award win for “The Water Carrier.” The movie was produced by George LaVoo (“Getting To Know You“) and Effie T. Brown, who produced Cheryl Dunye‘s “Stranger Inside” with Jim McKay and Michael Stipe‘s C-Hundred Film Corp. “Real Women” was shot by Jim Denault (“Boys Don’t Cry”). [Eugene Hernandez]

>> “Independent Lens” Re-Launches with Expanded Programming on PBS

(indieWIRE: 08.01.02) — The non-fiction program “Independent Lens,” which
was first started by PBS as a 10-week series in 1999, will now expand to 29
primetime episodes a year as the series is relaunched with the Independent
Television Service
. “Independent Lens” will present hour-long and occasional
90-minute documentaries from the United States and abroad, including some
animated works and shorts.

“Just as ‘Frontline World‘ and ‘Wide Angle‘ offer differing perspectives on
contemporary global events, PBS will now have two series, ‘Independent Lens’
and ‘P.O.V.,’ to capture more fascinating, compelling stories from the world
of non-fiction,” said Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of PBS, in a release.
“Multiple points of entry for independent producers will inevitably bring a
greater diversity of voices and viewpoints to our audience.”

PBS and ITVS will co-curate the series, and the lineup for 2003 will be
announced after Labor Day. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting awarded a
special launch grant to “Independent Lens.” [Brian Brooks]

>> WEDNESDAY IN indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: Venice 2002 Line up; Sony Gets Shane Meadows’ Film; and the LA Latino Fest Winners

(indieWIRE: 07.31.02) — The 59th Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica,
also known as the Venice Film Festival, will kick off on the Lido in Venice on
August 29 with Julie Taymor’s latest, “Frida.” Sony Pictures Classics acquired
the rights to Shane Meadows’ romantic family saga “Once Upon a Time in the
Midlands” from FilmFour; And, Argentinian director Eduardo Mignona’s “La Fuga”
(The Escape) won the best picture and best script prizes at the sixth annual
Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.”


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