Cable Sankar



The step by step guide of movie making in Hollywood, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Famous productions


Hollywood film business 
So how is a film brought to life in Hollywood?
1. First of all, a lead member selects a story or novel. The big shot may be the producer or director or even the hero of the film. 
2. If the selected story were a novel, copyrights would be bought. Based on the wealth of the lead member, script would be prepared later or after identifying the producer. According to his recommendation, screenplay team is formed. 
3. This is followed by selection of technical crew and cast.  After the pre-production work is complete, and more importantly, only after the producer inspects and verifies everything, the director can get into the action. All the locations are visited one year in advance. The crew would also predict the climatic conditions, traffic, political conditions of the planned location and use them accordingly during the filming. 
4. Except really big stars and directors, nobody else receives the salary in percentage. (In our industries, Rajinikanth, Kamalhasan and in Telugu, Venkatesh, Maheshbabu and the likes are the only few getting the salary in percentage, as a share in profit of the film. Though it is profitable, at times this may create loss as well). This is one of the reasons for the hero of the main film not appearing in the sequel. Salary problem would topple any actor, no matter how big a hit the prequel is. 
5. Once the film is over and post-production is on, producers would choose the distribution companies. This is almost a fixed deal as mostly the sister concerns of the studios or their subsidiaries do the distribution.
6. Despite the fact that production and distribution are done by the production houses, at times, these production houses finance for independent producers as well. That is, however, only after reviewing the script thoroughly or when the major portion of the film is completed with filming.
There was a time Hollywood was facing stiff competition from Britain and France. As Sujatha once wrote, now Britain also depends on Hollywood for entertainment. Once in a blue moon Harry Potter and James Bond movies are reminding that British film industry is still alive, feeding much needed oxygen. Otherwise, British film industry is as good as dead.
So the only competition at present is France. That too, when action movies like ‘Taken’ are made in English and released, world recognizes. Otherwise, their movies too would be included in ‘World Cinema’. 
Due to these reasons, without much competition, Hollywood can effortlessly take back the capital they invest, no matter how huge it is.  The basis for this easy business is their distribution. 
Globally, Hollywood films’ business value is US $ 65 Billion. Out of this, $ 35 Billion is income share to distribution business. The Big 6 could not be giving away the goldmine called distribution to anyone else. Every big production house has one or more distribution company, as its own subsidiary. The main purpose of this is not to share the collection of the movie with anyone else. But why is a single distribution banner not enough? It is to suit to the genre and rating multiple films from the mother production house.
To explain, Disney has two distribution houses called Touchstone and Miramax. Disney’s name is immediately connected with kids and family. Hence, it would use any one of these distribution companies’ banner for any adult oriented movies it produces or buys from others. 
Let us look at the distribution subsidiaries of other Big 6 members.
Paramount Vantage:
This is the distribution label for art films. It has distributed Babel, No country for old men, there will be no blood, the eye, etc.
Paramount Famous productions:
Some films would release directly in DVD format. These kind of films are released under Paramount Famous productions
Dreamworks SKG:
This is Steven Spielberg’s company, bought over by Paramount. The release of ‘Paranormal Activity’ witnessed clashes, though it is from the same group. Now Dreamworks has joined hands with Sony. 
Universal Pictures:
I can vouch you must have heard this name. Some of the flop movies from Universal Studios have been converted into hits by this distribution house. The right hand of Universal Pictures. 
United International Pictures:
Sometimes, it would be maddening to see amusing things like two rival production houses jointly running a distribution company. This happens in Hollywood. United International Pictures is one such, run jointly by Universal and Paramount. Its prime business is to buy over movies from others and distribute them overseas.
Now that you have a bird’s eye view, let us quickly run you through the other companies.
Warner Brothers:
WB has 6 to 7 distribution houses namely New Line cinema, Warner Brothers Pictures, Warner Home Videos, etc. The specialty of each company is easily identifiable with its name.
Except the legacy of vintage company, there is nothing much to write about Columbia. Also has a sister concern called Columbia Tri-Star. Bought over by Sony.
Walt Disney Studios:
Walt Disney is a Kingdom with 187,000 employees (2008). It is strong with a dozen distribution companies including Touchstone Pictures, Miramax Films, Walt Disney Pictures, Buena Vista, etc. 
20th Century Fox:
This giant has a dedicated unit to distribute independent movies (indie in short) and British films. Mother of ‘Fox search light’ that has self projected itself with ‘Slum dog Millionaire’, which collected $ 375 Mn. 
Though these self-owned distribution companies have the advantage of not sharing the profit from a film to anyone else, in case of loss that must be borne single handedly too. To mitigate this, two major production companies make a deal that one would produce the film while the other would distribute it.
Alongside these mammoth networks, there are very small companies and at times individuals too would release some movies very rarely. 99.9% such releases are limited release movies, which means, number of theaters would be minimal. These movies too, will be mediocre which the Big 6 would have neglected. 
Earlier, distribution companies governed the region of USA with 30 – 50 branch offices and immense manpower. In this modern era, they have only around 5-10 offices and rule the whole North American continent. The benefit of technology!
[…to be continued

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