With Movies Like 'Trumbo' and 'Elvis & Nixon,' Bleecker Street Takes Aim at Adults

Andrew Karpen - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Andrew Karpen - H 2015

Andrew Karpen's Bleecker Street distribution company — backed by energy drink tycoon Manoj Bhargava — may only be a year old, but with a slate of seven adult-oriented indies (including the already successful 'I'll See You in My Dreams' and the buzzy award biopic 'Trumbo'), it's grown up fast.

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Its financial backer is the creator of the 5-Hour Energy drink, so it's no surprise that Bleecker Street has a little extra pep in its step. Only one year old, the indie distributor already has built a slate of seven adult-aimed films, including the Blythe Danner dramedy I'll See You in My Dreams (which has earned $7.4 million since May, one of the best showings of the year for an indie) and Danny Collins, starring Al Pacino as an aging rock star ($5.6 million). "Adults are an audience that still believe in going to the movies," says Andrew Karpen, who for 12 years ran Focus Features with James Schamus.

Part of the company's financing deal with billionaire Manoj Bhargava — the Indian-American energy drink tycoon — was that Bleecker also would distribute movies made by his goddaughter's film company, Shivani Rawat's ShivHans Pictures. Which is how Bleecker ended up distributing ShivHan's Trumbo. But the company also has made several high-profile buys on the festival circuit, including Tobey Maguire's chess drama Pawn Sacrifice (Sept. 18), and has partnered with Netflix to handle the theatrical release of the streamer's first original film, Beasts of No Nation (Oct. 16) and with Amazon Studios to handle Elvis & Nixon, out in theaters in 2016. Says Karpen, "For a brand-new company to be the choice of Netflix and Amazon speaks volumes about the organization we've put together here."