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A Message from the Movies

A message from the Movies image by Matthew BroomheadI’m not interested in Movie celebrities, but I do like a good movie. When the finished product hits the screen it can be an incredible spectacle or an emotional ride. As with everything in life the end product that the rest of the world sees, never fully expresses all the blood, sweat and tears required to make it happen.

What’s of particular interest from a business perspective is the investment amounts required and the risk associated with it. I remember years ago a very experienced person in the movie industry said that movies tend to work in threes. One will flop (Waterworld was one of the most notable ones); one will break even; and one will make a profit that enables them to cover the cost of the losses. The problem is no-one really know which ones will be a hit.

Matthew Vaughn is an English screenwriter, producer and director and according to Wikipedia he is best known for producing such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) and directing the films Layer Cake (2004), Stardust (2007), Kick-Ass (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011), and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015).

In a BBC radio interview with Mark Kermode, he talked about the times he was going to quit the movie industry.

He started off being a producer and became an independent because no one would finance the movies.

After screening Lock Stock he was told no one wanted it and that it would go straight to VHS.

The only reason he got distribution on Lock Stock was that to help with finances he’d done a record deal beforehand and when he contacted the record company he apologised and said he was really sorry as they could not sell the film. The record guy said that was ridiculous so he contacted PolyGram who at the time owned the record company and the film company and got them to do him a favour. Even though they had already watched the film and turned it down, they watched it again and said they would do the record guy a favour and buy it just for England.

So Vaughn thought “beggars can’t be choosers we’ll probably get released in two screens”.

He then rang up Trudie Styler who had put money in to fund the film and asked her to do him a favour and get Tom Cruise along to the buyers screening in America. She said are you mad, cruise just stars for the premiers. Matthew replied that there was not going to be a premier.

Apparently Tom cruise did turn up at a tiny screening room on the Sony lot. Matthew Vaughn said, “It was hysterical. You had all these mid-level executives sitting there, and Cruise walked in. He saw them all sit up and pay attention, all getting on their phones, and suddenly all these senior executives joined the screening because cruise was there. At the end, Tom got up in front of everyone and said ‘This is the best movie I’ve seen in years, you guys would be fools not to buy it.’”

Then they had a bidding war because of that and they made back all their money.

In one significant event his film career went from nearly ending to starting.

When he made Kick Ass with a budget of £35m that he independently funded, he encountered similar problems. No one wanted to distribute the film and it was due to go straight to DVD.

Both times this happened he vowed to retire from the movie business. However, fortunately they got KickAss screened at Comic Con and it screened straight after Avatar. Vaughn said the place went crazy and this created another bidding war the next day.

It can be frustrating when we have invested so much time and emotional effort into a project and even though we think it is a brilliant idea, the people that appear to be holding the purse strings just don’t get it.

People may say that sometimes we need a little luck. However, without influential contacts that can pull in favours and make things happen and a tenacity to see our visions come alive, then luck has a difficult time showing up.

Matthew Broomhead
“Raising the level of Business Skills in Britain”
Creator of Broomhead Business Channel

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