Why 'Boyhood' is a different story on the Oscar front for IFC Films
Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" added more screens this weekend and currently finds itself in 107 theaters nationwide. With a per-screen average of around $16,000, the weekend gross was north of $1.7 million, bringing the overall tally to over $4.1 million to date. As it continues to find its audience, the film is obviously a long play for IFC Films, and the prospect of awards recognition lurks, as ever, just over the horizon.
Can "Boyhood" be a significant player in the Oscar season for a company that has never really made awards a part of its overall business model? Better yet, if the answer is yes, could it become a significant threat in a season that may well end up a lackluster one when all is said and done? There are a lot of possibilities here, and plenty of questions, for what is easily one of the most unique films in the 2014 marketplace.
I hopped on the phone this morning with two of the film's producers, Jonathan Sehring (also IFC Films President) and John Sloss to discuss that and other finer points. They make for a dryly witty and fun pair who have worked together for many years and obviously share a passion for this project. At the end of the day, "Boyhood" looks like it will be a very different story for all involved, and ultimately, that's something unquantifiable in an Oscar race.
Read through the back and forth below.
HitFix: First and foremost congratulations on the film. It's a special piece of work.
Jonathan Sehring: Thank you. We're obviously thrilled with the response. It's something that we're very proud of, we're very bullish about, and we're just thrilled with the ways audiences are responding.
Yeah, how do you feel about the roll-out so far?
John Sloss: Personally, I think the roll-out has been brilliantly managed. Hats off to our friends at IFC. We thought about it very meticulously and I think it's played out exactly the way we had hoped.
When and why was it decided that this would be a summer release? Why not, say, in the prestige months of the fall?
Sehring: John, you can, of course, contradict everything I'm going to say, which you can anticipate. We decided coming out of Berlin and Sundance. And this is as much a partnership as it is one company doing something. We've been partners in this for the past 12, 13 years. It was a decision where we felt that we had a great summer movie that we thought would play well into the fall and that it is something so unique and that audiences would just continue to build. John can speak to this, but we're seeing that just in our expansion week to week in how we're holding, and even our Sunday numbers, there's barely a drop-off. We're playing extremely well in multiplexes and out of the park in art houses.
Sloss: One of the things that our research showed early on — and it was counter-intuitive to us, because of the nature of this movie — is that this film plays huge to people under 25. And it is really hard to get to people under 25, the conventional wisdom says, without spending $30-40 million, which we knew we wouldn't have and wouldn't be wise for the movie. So the feeling is how do you get to these people without that kind of carpet bombing, and the answer that kept coming back is if you have a word-of-mouth film, you stick in theaters long enough so that in the sixth and seventh week, they start to show up. That has been our strategy and all indications are that it's moving in that direction.
I've seen the $200,000 a year figure noted elsewhere, but I'm curious where the budget on this ended up when all was said and done.
Sehring: The $200,000 a year was a figure, that really was year one thing, John, if I recall correctly.
Sloss: Yeah, I think it went down every year! [Laughs.]
Sehring: It varied year to year — it was never below that, trust me.
Sehring: But that was just the shoot. Post and music and everything else, uh…
Sloss: We can say what it is, can't we?
Sehring: Well, you can. I'm a distributor.
Sloss: OK, yeah, it was close to $4 million at the end of the day. But some of it was spent 12 years ago, so if you factor in the time value of money…
And you just went over $4.1 million this weekend, so that's great news.
Sehring: And then based on box office bumps and things like that, we're going to end up between four and a half and five. But it's still a bargain at any price, Kris, because are we ever going to see anything like this again? Probably not in my lifetime.