Bigfoot Entertainment Expands, Launches Distribution Company

7:00 PM PST 11/02/2010 by Jonathan Landreth

CEO Kacy Andrews: "We want genre films, horror and action that will sell internationally and play well theatrically, too. Cast and story are important to us."

Independent genre filmmaker Bigfoot Entertainment has expanded into film acquisition, distribution and foreign sales, launching Bigfoot Ascendant Distribution.

At the American Film Market this week, CEO Kacy Andrews on Tuesday said the Los Angeles and Hong Kong-based company — started in 2004 by German entrepreneur-turned filmmaker Michael Gleissner — hopes to buy four to six English-language films per year for the new U.S. theatrical distribution venture.

“We want genre films, horror and action that will sell well internationally and play well theatrically, too,” Andrews said. “Cast and story are important to us.”

On the production side, Bigfoot's biggest success, among the 12 films it has made since 2006, was with director Jack Messitt's low budget Midnight Movie horror film that grossed over $1 million through home entertainment by Peach Arch and Phase 4, and through a sale to Showtime, Andrews said.

“This is what inspired us to consider getting into distribution,” Andrews said.

On the distribution side, Bigfoot has pushed such films as action thriller Lord of War and crime thriller Lucky Number Slevin. In a statement released Monday, Andrews said that Bigfoot is not looking to compete with Hollywood's big studio distributors but capitalize on mid-level opportunities.

The company, which runs film schools and has a film studio with underwater soundstages in Cebu, the Philippines, is expanding to push toward profitability, Andrews said.

“Our schools are profitable, but overall we're not profitable yet” she said. “We're hoping the distribution side will get us there in one to two years,” Andrews told THR over the phone.

In the theatrical arena, Bigfoot owns a share of Carmike Cinemas, operator of 2,000 screens in second-tier cities across the American Midwest and South, and the Bigfoot Majestic Crest Theatre in the university campus neighborhood of Westwood in Los Angeles, where it is now showcasing Saw 3D.

“We'll showcasing Hollywood first run films, our films and will occasionally do and Asian and horror film nights,” Andrews said.

In home video distribution, Bigfoot is now considering a few partners and either will get into the business as an investment play or as a partnership to promote the company's productions and acquisitions, Andrews said.

Since it began production in 2006, the dozen films Bigfoot's produced have come off of budgets of between up to $2 million each, Andrews said. Films such as supernatural thriller Within by director Hanelle Culpepper, starring Rachel Weiss and Mia Ford, was bought from Bigfoot by Lifetime for 3 years, Andrews said.

Gleissner, 41, lives in Hong Kong and also owns Bigfoot Studios, in Cebu, where six sound stages and on-site state-of-the-art post-production facilities provide the company's productions a natural, cheap place to shoot.

The studio, whose facilities are booked through 2012, mostly with Bigfoot productions, also has begun to rent its facilities to other production companies, such as South Korean giant CJ Entertainment, which in 2008 shot “Marine Boy” there, Andrews said.

Currently shooting there is Gleissner's Air Traffic Controller, written by Messitt and based on true story of the murder of an air traffic controller by a man who lost his wife and child when a DHL cargo plane collided mid-air with a Russian commercial jet. 

If it U.S. distribution venture works, Bigfoot may consider German distribution next, starting with films such as Gleissner's directorial debut, the English-language action film Deep Gold, shot mostly in the Philippines, Andrews said.

Gleissner founded Bigfoot in 2004 after he sold his online bookseller Telebooks, Germany's answer to Amazon, to the giant U.S. online books distributor, Andrews said.

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