Oliver Stone Film Nabs P&A Funding

By Robert Marich
   Oct. 11, 2008 – Oliver Stone’s W. movie about President Bush cobbled together $30 million in financing from overseas sources because investors in the U.S. found the project uncommercial. A Wall Street Journal article notes that an Australian company – Omnilab Media – invested another $25 million to pay for marketing costs.
   Production of W. was financed with money from Hong Kong film distributor Emperor Group, Hong Kong venture capitalist Johnny Hon, Swiss investor Thomas Sterchi (who took the traditionally-valuable German-speaking rights to the film in Europe), and French distributors Victor and Samuel Hadida. U.S. based production/foreign sales single QED from Bill Block was also involved. The film premieres in the U.S. on Oct. 17 via Lionsgate.
   Finding a financial investor – Omnilab – to provide marketing costs is a coup because it represents a rare example of an indie film tapping a third-party financier. Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition devotes a whole chapter to such P&A Funds  (prints and advertising funds) that are much talked about in the industry, but seldom actually come through with money.
   The article says QED’s Block ”went on a global chase to run down potential investors who were fascinated by the Bush story in a way that American executives weren't. What he wound up with was investors from Europe to Asia who were riveted by President Bush's global celebrity -- and hoping to use it to crash into Hollywood,” says the article by Lauren A.E. Schuker.
   With the film’s release about to start, it will soon be known whether W. is a financial success, but it’s clearly a long shot—as American investors who passed on the project clearly believed.
   Stone, an Oscar-winning filmmaker with impressive credits, has lately made a string of poor performing films and W. seems to have about the same audience appeal of his 1995 film Nixon. That drama about another American president grossed a paultry $13.7 million domestically despite a great performance by another Oscar winner--Anthony Hopkins.
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