Earlier this summer, Paramount Pictures partnered with New Republic on “Mission Impossible: 7” and eight other films.
New Republic, led by veteran producers Brian Oliver and Bradley Fischer, has announced that it has entered into a co-funding agreement that includes “The Tomorrow War,” “Infinite,” “Without Remorse” by Michael B. Jordan, “Coming 2 America “By Eddie Murphy”, “Transformers 7”, “The Tiger’s Apprentice”, “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “Under the Boardwalk”.
Oliver has spent the coronavirus pandemic developing productions and preparing for a reboot. As America slowly reopens, Oliver provides insight into how he weathered the pandemic, making deals and voicing concerns about insurance and film production obligations.
Going back to March, what was the impact of the foreclosure on your productions?
We had a few productions about to start, they were closed. As a company, we focus most of our time on development, and we saw the writing on the wall that there would be no movies for a while.
We developed and prepared, putting together a bunch of movies once things got back to normal. We also made a deal with Paramount, and we’re just waiting for the reboot.
How do you navigate between playing a film on VOD, staying in the cinema or keeping it later?
In our deal with Paramount, we had “Without Remorse” which was a theatrical release. It didn’t make sense to take it out when people weren’t going to the movies. So it ended up selling to Netflix.
Netflix and some other companies have been very aggressive in acquiring movies that I think would have been big theatrical releases. But in the market, a studio cannot stay there forever, it needs cash. I think Netflix and other places will find some good stuff because of the pandemic.
How do you see the next few months with the onset of winter and the projections for another peak that will undoubtedly impact production?
The reality is that no one knows. Right? Everyone is cautiously optimistic. But all it takes is a few mishaps at the start of big movies and things can change.
To be insured is impossible. Obtaining a bond is impossible because they do not stick anything related to COVID-19.
Hopefully when restarting production everyone is very careful and doesn’t mess anything up. As soon as someone blows it out, it will impact all planes. If a $ 150 million movie goes down for two to three weeks, the magnitude of that cost is easily $ 20 to $ 30 million. This is not an insignificant number.
I’ve spoken to filmmakers who say they’ve made a COVID-19 compatible film. They will talk about a change of location, no extras and fewer people on the set. People are trying to make this film work in this environment. I’m just worried about the extra cost and not having insurance.
I don’t know if people want to go see a movie. If you reduce the volume we want people to be safe, but at what cost compared to what we’re doing?
Can you develop the insurance aspect?
Other countries are setting up bonds and making money so that they can reinsure insurance companies. People can make movies and know they have insurance.
The federal government must have a plan to insure COVID-19 for production. They have to help get bank loans and the other stuff that independent films need. I think we’re going to lose more productions to Canada, the UK, and other countries that are helping filming take over and help the industry.
What extra precautions do you add to your productions to ensure that safety on set goes much further?
Everyone has to follow the protocols and the guilds manage this. You’re going to have to shorten your schedule each day so that you can do the tests and everything that needs to be done.
I don’t know about insurance and bonds. But if you’re doing independent films, it’s really scary.
I’m worried that everyone is rewriting scripts to make them work in a COVID-19 environment. I understand everyone wants to get back to production, but if it’s not safe to make the movie you want to make, then you’re rewriting it for fun, it scares me more.
I don’t want a great action movie without action. Everyone has to get back to work, but at what cost? On the contrary, we have to make sure we make good movies for theaters to survive.
There is always quality control. That’s the great thing about the movie industry, we make the best movies. We don’t want to sacrifice complete quality control to do this.
How do you see the future of the theater industry?
I believe it. If something positive results from it, you will see that the cinema market is strong and Americans like to go to the theater to see movies. Hopefully this will show theaters are here to stay. I think the bar has maybe changed a bit – the movies have to be even better and bigger than before.
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