With ‘Logan Lucky,’ Soderbergh Hopes to Change Film’s Business Model

The financial story of “Logan Lucky,” that arrives in theaters on Aug. 18, starts in a tumble of 2014. According to Mr. Soderbergh, a “friend” asked him to review a script, about a ragtag organisation that robs a Nascar track, and advise a director. Mr. Soderbergh pronounced he desired a thought (Ocean’s 7-Eleven, if we will) and wanted to proceed a film himself.

But initial he indispensable a devise that confident his artistic and mercantile demands. It was comparatively easy to lift a $29 million or so indispensable to make “Logan Lucky,” that stars Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig and Riley Keough. Once his expel was in place — all similar to work for scale, with distinction appearance if a film succeeds — Mr. Soderbergh sole off abroad placement rights, a customary use in a eccentric film business. Voilà: artistic control over a tangible film.

But placement would not be so easy.

The customary choice for a far-reaching release, definition during slightest 2,500 locations in North America on opening weekend, involves renting a vital studio’s machinery. A studio like Warner Bros. foots a offered check (about $40 million is customary for a prolongation like “Logan Lucky”) and handles all aspects of a release. For a services, a studio collects a price (roughly 15 percent of sum sheet sales) and deducts a expenses. Any remaining distinction goes to a owners of a film.

For Mr. Soderbergh, that track was a nonstarter. “You’re proceed too distant divided from your money,” he said.

Mr. Soderbergh also wanted to spend most reduction on marketing. It would mount to reason that a studio would, too. But it is indeed in a studio’s seductiveness to spend some-more — that proceed a box bureau sum is customarily bigger, that in spin means a bigger fee. It is also intensely tough to get studios to rewrite their offered playbooks. With dozens of cinema on a public line, impressed studio executives tend to go with what has worked in a past.

“I know since they conflict new ideas,” Mr. Soderbergh said. “With so most income during stake, it’s tough to lay in that room and say, sure, let’s burst off a precipice and try a whole new approach.”

LOGAN LUCKY | Official HD Trailer Video by Bleecker Street

In addition, Mr. Soderbergh, who won an Academy Award in 2000 for directing “Traffic,” wanted full artistic control over “Logan Lucky” advertising. He pronounced studios had never given him comprehensive contend over a campaign. Trailers, for instance, are tested with concentration groups before they are expelled and mostly tweaked formed on a responses. “It’s really formidable once we get into studio contrast to pull back,” Mr. Soderbergh said.


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As he explored options, Mr. Soderbergh initial deliberate combining an fondness with a National Association of Theater Owners, a trade organization. Why not cut out distributors totally by going true to multiplex operators? Mr. Soderbergh shortly satisfied that was not an ideal solution, in partial since a Justice Department keeps tighten tabs on a confluence of museum bondage to sovereign antitrust laws.

Mr. Soderbergh eventually connected with Hollywood’s heading management on distribution: Dan Fellman, a former Warner Bros. executive who now runs a consulting business. Mr. Fellman, who became an executive writer on “Logan Lucky,” devised a devise that Mr. Soderbergh liked.

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They would lift about $20 million in offered income by offered off a apportionment of a film’s nontheatrical rights. Amazon, for instance, bought streaming rights.

Then they would make an atypical placement understanding with Bleecker Street Media, an pretender with a sum staff of about 20. Bleecker Street would govern a offered debate — with Mr. Soderbergh commendatory all — and accept a token price of reduction than $1 million. If a film strike certain box bureau thresholds, Bleecker Street would accept a cut of sheet sales. Bleecker Street would also attend in other income streams, including DVD sales.

Mr. Soderbergh remarkable that a box bureau bar for success is reduce underneath this setup. With scarcely all prepaid, and no large distributor fees entrance off a top, even a medium $15 million opening would be a win.

“All of a financial interests are aligned,” pronounced Andrew Karpen, Bleecker Street’s arch executive. “Logan Lucky” will simply turn Mr. Karpen’s biggest recover to date, leading a thriller “Eye in a Sky,” that collected about $18.7 million final year on about 1,000 screens. Bleecker Street also has dibs on a “Logan Lucky” sequel.

“We know that a lot of big-time filmmakers are examination this,” Mr. Fellman said. “We wish this to be a commencement of a garland of movies.”

So far, Mr. Soderbergh has spent usually about 15 percent of his “Logan Lucky” promotion budget. With usually 3 weeks until release, studios would have typically spent 40 percent. But Mr. Soderbergh believes that a immeasurable infancy of offered should come immediately before a film’s release.

“I was also really austere about a trailer,” Mr. Soderbergh said. “I wanted it to feel like a reversion and not seem like it gave divided all a jokes.” He pronounced the trailer was not tested with a concentration group.


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Outdoor “Logan Lucky” ads are strong in a Midwest and South. Bucking studio tradition, billboards are wanting to nonexistent in cities like Los Angeles and New York.

“Logan Lucky,” that has perceived very strong early reviews, has also generated headlines over a script. The screenplay is credited to Rebecca Blunt, who does not seem to exist. Who wrote it?

That poser might be partial of a offered plan.

In response to questions about a screenplay’s author, Mr. Soderbergh pronounced in an email, “Clarify? Me? Why would we do that? we can tell we that Rebecca Blunt is enjoying all this immensely.”

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