Every producer has at least one "movie that changed my life.” What’s yours and why?
Thunder Road Pictures | Santa Monica, CA
The first is Star Wars. It blew my mind back then, and it still does. It was the first time I understood movies as a shared experience. The second is Ordinary People. My parents were going through a divorce at the time, and I really related to the Timothy Hutton character as he tried to make sense of his situation.It taught me that not every film exists to entertain but sometimes to give us insight into ourselves.
Lord knows, there are easier and more reliable ways to make a living than by making films.What draws you to film as a business opportunity?
I think the business, when you look at it globally, is vibrant and healthy, but only when you have something that people want. So we have poured an enormous amount of resources into development, which has given us an asset base and allowed us to sustain momentum in the marketplace. When we are blessed with a great project that we control, all of the sudden the business side takes care of itself.
What’s the most recent project you’ve backed?
Wind River, starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Jon Bernthal. It’s the directorial debut of Taylor Sheridan, who wrote Sicario. He is a massive talent. It was financed independently with no distributor, which is code for "The producers barely got paid.” Some movies are all about the upside—creatively and financially.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken on a project?
John Wick was my biggest risk. I had a lot of money on the line. And for what? A movie about a guy avenging his dead puppy? It felt like a failed career suicide attempt. Then we saw the movie. Thank god for Keanu and the directors! And now it’s a franchise ... what a business.
What’s a story you saw or read over the past year or so that really connected with you?
I absolutely loved Creed. Even aside from the amazing filmmaking and performances, the actual experience of watching that movie in a packed house, with my own kids cheering alongside me, was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
What’s the quickest way to make sure you will NEVER back the script I’m pitching you?
If it contains something along the lines of "Then our hero pulls out his sword and fights the scary CG-created monster.” The market has spoken; "Please, Thunder Road, no more sword-and-sandal-and-monster movies!” Believe me, we hear you.