Cautious Sony Classics Outlasts Specialty Rivals

Sept. 15, 2008 -- The Los Angeles Times profiles Sony Pictures Classics – the specialty film theatrical distribution arm of major studio Sony/Columbia – as a prominent survivor after a spate of closures or drastic downsizing of similar divisions at other studios. These include Paramount Vantage, Warner Independent Pictures, Warner’s Picturehouse and Warner’s New Line Cinema.
Rivals had dismissed SPC’s leaders Michael Barker and Tom Bernard “as old farts, wedded to an outdated art-house model, noting that their box-office numbers have been in steady decline,” says the article by Patrick Goldstein. “But the duo, who'll celebrate their 18th year working together in January, may have the last laugh.”
The article interviews Barker – who is quoted extensively in Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition – as explaining SPC’s longevity: “We're just more disciplined. While others companies were embracing a gold-rush mentality and spending like crazy, we've stayed the same size as ever. We have 25 staffers -- that's the whole company. So we can market our movies more inexpensively than everyone else. We want to win the war, not the opening weekend."
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