Iconoclastic in their acquisitions and in their release strategies, Radius-TWC presidents/co-founders Tom Quinn and Jason Janego are walking away from the company they started in 2011, and plan to start a new one. (Variety reports, and Deadline counterspins.)
This is the latest shakeup at the cash-strapped Weinstein Company, which just last week lost Chief Operating Officer David Glasser. And whither Shakespeare adaptation “Macbeth”? TWC just recently shifted this high-profile awards hopeful from its main slate to the autonomous Radius for a late 2015 theatrical release, to be followed by VOD play on Amazon in early 2015. That could signal the direction Quinn and Janego are heading, as Harvey Weinstein has long nurtured a relationship with Netflix.
Radius has innovated radically in the VOD space, partnering in 2014 with Weinstein to open “Snowpiercer” on VOD two weeks after theatrical release, which was unheard-of for a summer action adventure. Femme comedy “Bachelorette” (Sundance 2012) with a name cast led by Kirsten Dunst worked well on VOD. Earlier this year, Radius pushed back the VOD release of horror runaway sleeper “It Follows,” opting instead to take the film wide in theaters in March to the sparkling tune of $15 million. And they shepherded documentary pickups “Twenty Feet from Stardom” (which cost $1 million and grossed $5 million domestic) and “Citizenfour” ($2.8 million domestic) to back-to-back Oscar wins. Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s Sundance doc “The Hunting Ground” (CNN) is considered a 2016 contender.
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Quinn and Janego were early practitioners of multi-platform and day-and-date releases during their days at Magnolia Pictures under pioneer Eamonn Bowles, who continues to be successful without them (“Iris,” “Tangerine,” “The Wolfpack”). It’s unclear where they’re headed next–although Amazon seems a likely partner. While they tried to run their TWC company autonomously, clearly they believe they have a better shot at realizing their distribution dreams–whether theatrical or digital–elsewhere, not to mention finding the cash to acquire the pictures that excite them. (Over the past year they have not had the resources to buy what they wanted.)
As key buyers and sellers head into the competitive fall festival fray, questions remain: do the Weinsteins really want to invest money that they do not have in abundant supply in Quinn & Janego’s new startup (feels like spin) or continue to play the Radius game without them? (Who knows this space better than they do?) Quinn and Janego will likely want to take advantage of Weinstein Co.’s lucrative output deals, without which a start-up indie will be hard-strapped.
Is the VOD market so over-saturated that the day-and-date theatrical/VOD distribution model is no longer competitive now that deep-pocketed Amazon and Netflix –with huge numbers of subscribers–are in the game? Every movie is different and demands a different scale of release depending on the individual elements. Amazon and Netflix still need theatrical partners to brand their movies, so it makes sense that Quinn and Janego would want to provide that service–among other things.
Radius’ Fall film slate includes 2014 Venice pickup “Goodnight Mommy” (September 11) and Berlin buy “When Animals Dream” (August 28, day-and-date).