Le Café en revue « Cinema is everywhere nowadays »
Entretien

« Cinema is everywhere nowadays »

par Craig Keller
L'Aurore (Friedrich Murnau, 1927).

L'Aurore (Friedrich Murnau, 1927).

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On the occasion of the new release of Jacques Rivette’s Out 1, Craig Keller and Vincent-Paul Boncour started to debate, in the first part of this interview, the specific issues connected to its restoration and distribution. In the second and last part of their talk, they go further and discuss the creation, by Vincent Paul-Boncour, of the company Carlotta. Its establishment on the American market is a path which, if you follow its thread, narrates the success of daring choices but also the multiplication of screens available to watch films and the tremendous development of the market of patrimonial cinematographic works.


Craig Keller : How did Carlotta begin ?

Vincent Paul-Boncour : We started Carlotta 17 years ago, with the idea to work specifically on reissues, cult classics, and revivals, at the time when DVD had only just barely begun to exist — so it was a different market, a different area. And following the tradition in France of classics and revivals, there were already some existing distribution companies doing work on reissues in theaters with classic titles for so many years and decades. And we wanted to create a new company to work on this matter, but to work on quite different titles, because at the time, almost 20 years ago, most of the classics you could see as re-releases in theaters were really classics from the Golden Age of Cinema, like the ‘40s, ’50s, and more recent movies were considered too new for exhibitors and distributors. Our characteristic really was to work on more recent titles, from the ‘70s, ‘80s, to fit more with new generations, and to say that there could be an interesting proposition to go ahead re-releasing classics from the ‘70s and ‘80s by directors who are still alive and directors whose titles you grew up with, but only grew up with on TV or video, in French dubbed versions.

So we started with the New Hollywood, like movies by De Palma, Scorsese, Coppola, movies from their great period of the late-‘70s, the beginning of the ‘80s, and titles that strangely were almost impossible to see in theaters, commercial arthouses, on the big screen.

C.K. : With regard to New Hollywood directors and their work of the 1970s, was it mostly their studio films that you were working on ? And were there any problems with licensing, if the film came out of a major studio ?

V. P.-B. : There were different situations. Most of them were movies that were part of the studios, so you could work with them or with sales agents to have access and buy the rights to the film, and to attain the French rights; afterwards, there could be an issue of getting materials, depending. Also, on some titles, they might have been with independent rights owners. But most of the titles were licensed from the studios.

C.K. : Were the deals purely for theatrical rights?

V. P.-B. : Our first work was indeed to work in theatrical distribution. It was really specific in the beginning : there were theatrical distributors, and there were VHS distributors. It was really rare to have companies like myself that were doing both activities ; it was usually completely separate. I do believe that when the DVD arrived, for some companies like myself DVD became something of an extension of the work we were doing as a theatrical distributor. This is why we developed this activity.

C.K. : Is there ever a circumstance at this current point in time where you will obtain only the theatrical rights for a film, or do you make sure when you make the deal for the film that you always obtain home video and VOD rights?

V. P.-B. : When we expanded our activities further, and were not just doing theatrical releases, we tried to get the rights other than only theatrical on the titles. But always depending on the situation. There are no rules nowadays. It means that we could acquire a title just for theatrical, a title just for DVD… Even though regarding the difficulty of the market, we need to acquire all-rights more and more often, because of the economy, and because all the work you can do as a distributor on a theatrical release and on DVD will create new promotion for the title, and of course could interest the audience. But we don’t limit ourselves, and sometimes we really want to let the movie be rediscovered in the theater, and so then we could acquire just the theatrical rights.

C.K. : Can you explain for the readers, when negotiations occur for the licensing of a film, what it means when you say you pick up “all-rights”?

V. P.-B. : », in a way. You can watch a movie in so many different ways. First, and the original one, is in the cinema, in the theater, and will stay forever, I believe, because even with all the media and all the possible ways to see movies, and with all the cinemas nowadays, people are going more than ever to see movies in theaters. Of course there’s more and more disparity — it means that a new film or even a re-release could work more, but there are more and more movies that are doing less and less. This is today’s society.

So when I said “all-rights,” it’s : theatrical rights; DVD/video (which is now DVD and Blu-ray); VOD (VOD is more complex, because there’s VOD by subscription [to a streaming service, e.g. Netflix], and VOD just to rent or buy a film [by download, e.g. from iTunes]); and also TV rights. So these are the main rights you can handle when you’re buying a movie, and so they’re referred to all together as “all-rights.”

C.K. : You said earlier that part of the raison d’être for Carlotta was because, while also being able to present a newer generation of filmmakers, you were interested in presenting the restored versions of films. Was one reason for this because the prints of classic films in circulation in France were beaten up from being shown over and over again? Was another part of your thinking to make sure these older films would be circulating again in better editions?

V. P.-B. : Of course. One of the goals was to be able to present the audience with the best elements possible, in new restorations. At the time of course we were talking only of 35mm prints; there was no digital, no DCP. So it was something different. Even before digital, there was already restoration work done by the producers, by the rights owners — it’s not something that appeared with digital; it increased with digital, and HD. But there was a tradition of restoration in 35mm for a long time before. So we were able to release new prints with new subtitles, new promotional material and everything, as if we were releasing a brand new title. It was always characteristic of the work that we’re doing, always to consider that each movie we’re going to release, even if we’re talking about classics from whatever decade, it will be released as a ‘new movie’ — of course, as an « arthouse movie », not a mainstream one, but not to keep it as something ‘old’ or ‘classic’ in the old-fashioned sense. But to make it like a new release, and also as new for the audience. Because for a lot of people, many titles could be seen for the first time, and as a new movie!

C.K. : So you make it into more of an event, and you can ensure that the press, and the critics will pay attention.

V. P.-B. : Exactly.

There are too many releases every week. Not only new movies, but also revivals. And the audience cannot follow it all.

C.K. : When digital came along, how many more restorations were made per year, compared to how it used to be when there were only chemical restorations with 35mm?

V. P.-B. : It really increased a lot, especially in the last few years. Because as the standard became HD — not only in cinemas, but on video, TV, VOD and everything — the worldwide rights-holder needed digital elements and new restorations to be able to exploit a title. And also in France, for example, where there has always been an involvement of the state through the CNC, for a few years now there’s been a new department to subsidize restorations for the rights-owners, and to make 2K or 4K restorations, thanks to this department. So it’s really increased the number of propositions, the amount of work — which is good in a way. Later on, maybe we’ll arrive at a point where there could be too much: not in terms of too many restorations or preservations, but too many titles that could be released into the market, and maybe the market, or the audience, is not ready for so many options in theatrical releases. And one of the main problems nowadays, in my opinion, regarding the French market and theatrical distribution, is that there are too many releases every week. Not only new movies, but also revivals. And the audience cannot follow it all, at this rate.

C.K. : Is it that the audience is being pulled thin to go to see every movie, or is it that there are not enough theaters to exhibit the new releases every week?

V. P.-B. : I don’t think we have an extendable audience. We have an audience that might be interested in seeing revivals in cinemas. But you can’t extend this audience except for some very specific and rare movies. So you’re reaching a part of the same audience, and if you’re proposing every week three to four new releases, which is the case right now in France, you know that everything will be split. It’s too much for the audience concerned. And this audience might go to see one re-release in a week’s time, but it’s difficult to see two or three more beyond the new movies out. So I believe it really splits the number of admissions you could do on each title, because even if you are releasing different movies, genres, nationalities, you’re reaching, in one sense, the same audience.

And also of course, even if it’s DCP nowadays and not prints, you cannot extend the number of cities, of theaters, because as they’re full of propositions of new and classic titles, it’s difficult for the theaters to follow all the titles that the distributors are offering. So it’s getting tougher and tougher to have access to screens despite the digital aspect.

C.K. : Does DCP as a format make it any easier for venues that are not traditional theaters, salles de cinéma, to set up spontaneous or one-off screenings? Do you only have a limited number of DCPs made per new release? — because it is a physical object, and not just a digital file.

V. P.-B. : DCP is the digital format nowadays. As all the theaters, anyway in France and most of the world, became digital, 35mm has almost disappeared as a screening format in the commercial arthouse market. For example, for two or three years now, we’re releasing all of our titles in digital — no more 35mm prints. Because all the theaters made the transition, and very few of them are showing 35mm prints for the audience; it’s all digital. Not only with new movies of course, but with classics and revivals.

A DCP is like a hard drive… Before you had a print, whatever the format, but now everything is in this hard drive, and you can put your entire movie, and also other versions, versions with different subtitles, everything on a small hard drive that can be compared to an iPhone, or something like that. You have to connect it to the provider in the projection booth in the cinema; they upload all the files that are on the hard drive. And with the digital equipment, you can then project it on your screen in your theater.

C.K. : Roughly speaking, how much does it cost to replicate a DCP — if you want to make x number of DCPs of a release?

V. P.-B. : The price has decreased from 35mm. The only thing is to get the first element, to get your first DCP — that can be a different kind of cost regarding the work you have to do before — but after, you just have to make the duplications, and it’s around a few hundred euros to have a duplication made of a DCP. Instead of a few thousand euros each time to make a new print.

I remember when we started, 15 years ago and still nowadays, a print would cost between two and four thousand euros, plus the subtitles — you have to do them physically on the print — plus the shipment, if [the work] was done in a foreign country. It was expensive. This is why at the time, physically and economically, you were releasing only a few number of prints for most of the release because of the cost.

Nowadays, physically, you can do almost whatever you want.

C.K. : In Paris, or even in LA, is it a selling-point these days if a film is presented on 35mm ? For example, like at the New Beverly Cinema, where they’re Tarantino’s older, vintage prints — does that bring an audience out to the degree that does in New York ? In France, does it matter or not to an audience whether the projection is in digital or 35mm ?

V. P.-B. : From my experience, I don’t have the feeling that 35mm matters as an event, even for film buffs and cinephiles. Contrary to the US — New York, or LA — where I can see that there could be a commercial argument to say that the film will be shown in 35mm, I don’t believe it’s the case in France. So, you know, of all the commercial arthouse cinemas in Paris, for example, I don’t have a memory of a film recently released on 35mm, or even for a festival, for which the theater communicated the fact that it was on 35mm. They’re talking about restoration, but not about the format anymore, in France, anyway.

L'assoiffé (Guru Dutt, 1957).

L’assoiffé (Guru Dutt, 1957).

C.K. : You run a theater, or own a few theaters, in Paris?

V. P.-B. : I was doing that for six years, but we sold the theater last year. It was Le Nouveau Latina. But we’re not the owner anymore.

C.K. : You were acting as a programmer as well, and curating.

V. P.-B. : It was really a first-run theater, so we included the reissue releases as part of the day-to-day of the cinema, as well as new releases.

C.K. : In terms of the theaters that are in Los Angeles, do you see a market for expansion of theatrical presence by any entrepreneur or business concern? There’s a small number of theaters there compared to New York, despite its being such a movie town.

V. P.-B. : I do believe so. There’s already a lot of theaters in LA, but according to the fact that the city is so huge, not all the potential districts have an arthouse theater. Everything is split all over LA, but I do believe there could be places for more arthouse and revival theaters in some districts, because I believe you don’t have the equivalent of New York’s Film Forum in LA, for example.

C.K. : The Cinefamily might be the closest…

V. P.-B. : Yes, Cinefamily, they’re doing a great job, but in a way it’s a different cinephilia, a younger one; with B-movies, also some classics, but more recent, more ‘hipster’. So it’s something very interesting, but they cannot cover all the reissues.

There’s also the Laemmle circuit. They’re doing a lot of reissues… but I don’t think, with regard to revivals, that they have the same identity as Film Forum in New York. So you have a lot of possibilities to see classics and revivals, but not with the same exposure you could get in New York.

For example, because we’ll talk about Out 1, Out 1 is being released at BAM in Brooklyn for a two-week run, but it will be only at Cinefamily for one weekend. At the same time, it could go afterwards to other districts, other places, but it’s really split. It’s a different way, consuming cinema in LA.

C.K. : What influenced you to move to Los Angeles, and start a US operation with Carlotta?

V.P.-B. : My main activity is still Carlotta Films regarding all the work we’re doing all over the year with theatrical releases, DVD and Blu-ray releases, VOD, all-rights, and we had the will to develop our activity in an international way, trying to develop international sales on some titles. It’s interesting to follow what you’re doing in France regarding material and all the communications; so this is a small development for Carlotta, but not so easy, because with reissue and revivals the three key markets are France, the UK, and the US, and beyond that it’s really tiny, a few things, festivals, but nothing with a real economy around it.

On this idea of developing internationally, and now knowing more of the US, for personal and professional reasons we decided two years ago now to develop an activity here in the US also having to do with revivals, re-releases, with the idea not only, but mostly, to work on French titles. It was the case with the two Carax movies, Mauvais sang and Boy Meets Girl, now it’s the case with Out 1. On this development, my idea was to move personally to LA, even though I’m doing a lot of back-and-forth with France, of course, because my main activity is there. We’re only just recently creating the company here, and going step-by-step regarding the number of releases, and also trying to understand the specificity and the difference that there might be with distribution and the audience in the US, which is not automatically the same cinephilia as in France. So with all of that, I decided to move to LA to handle the US brand, with somebody working at my side for the booking and the theatrical part in New York. So it’s a very small team. It’s as if I was doing the creation of Carlotta 17 years ago, of course with a more important background and more experience! But almost the same way. Very small team, low costs, to be able to make the company exist and survive, and to develop it in the future, as we did with Carlotta Films in France.

C.K. : With regard to VOD, when formatting a film for digital platforms, is there a single universal format for the digital package that will go out to all of the different platforms, like Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, Netflix ?

V. P.-B. : No, they’re different formats. The US is really in advance compared to France regarding the potential and visibility of VOD. Talking of France, which is nevertheless the country I know the best, VOD is really difficult. There are different formats between iTunes and other platforms; and Amazon doesn’t have a VOD service in France… Depending on the platform, you have to provide the format they require. The situation between France and the US seems completely different.

One point: as VOD is more developed in the US, compared to France — even though there are a lot of things happening in France, and Netflix arrived one year ago, for example, and they’re announcing projects — “main VOD” (which is buying or renting a movie) is really almost nothing for arthouse movies and, more especially, revivals. It looks to me that we’re more [involved currently in VOD with the aspects of] a rental business, when the rental of movies was big, whether in France or the US, and it looks almost essentially like the same kind of movies that were being rented then as are being rented nowadays on VOD. And revivals and classics, unless very specific titles, very few of them, were not working as rentals…

C.K. : Can you speak a little bit about what you’ve experienced with regard to the difference in cinephilia between the US and France, as far as theatrical licenses ?

V. P.-B. : France is really a unique market, in the way that you can release certain movies in the theater — maybe too many nowadays because of too many releases and too many distributors; we could release different titles in the theater that would never be released in the US or the UK. Because I do believe there is a more important audience you could reach, so the main difficulty nowadays is to reach it, but there is at the outset a larger potential audience, and certainly more theaters also, not only in Paris but also in all the rest of France, in small, medium, or big cities that will be able to show a re-release, a revival, among their weekly program, beside new titles. I know the UK less — I haven’t had experience there — but for the US, there is a cinephilia and possibility, but for sure there are less places you can go. The two main cities are New York and LA, and I would say New York first. After, despite the fact that almost each important city in the US has its own arthouse theater, it means you can show from time to time more revival films; nevertheless, in the long term there are less possibilities for showing revival titles. But there is a market, nevertheless.

I think there are different kinds of cinephilias in the US. And the more arthouse cinephile is really strong regarding the French New Wave and American titles. And in France nowadays I will say it’s really more eclectic. American classic titles were very strong decades ago; I do believe it’s less the case now. For example, every year, when I was a kid or teenager, you could see the re-release of Gilda, Casablanca, Citizen Kane — they would always work and be re-released every two years. Nowadays, this kind of title still exists, but are bringing in less of an audience, and the audience are maybe more on different things: Italian movies, English movies, worldwide cinema, movies that are quite rare and are not really seen in the theater or on TV and everything. So I do believe that the French audience, in general of course, on one hand are more curious about different things.

But the market is difficult to compare. Because as I was saying previously, in France you have three to four re-releases every week, plus all the cinémathèques, the festivals, and so on, so it’s a lot.

C.K. : What would be an example of a title that you’ve licensed in France that you think would have theatrical success there, but not necessarily in the US?

V. P.-B. : Some recent releases, such as The Housemaid [Hanyo, released in France as La servante, Kim Ki-young, 1960], the Korean movie; or A Touch of Zen [Xiá nü, or The Ladyknight, King Hu, 1970] and Dragon Inn [Lóng mén kè zhàn, or Dragon Gate Inn, King Hu, 1967], which are Hong Kong movies; we will do the two Lino Brocka movies next year, Manila in the Claws of Light [Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, 1975] and Insiang [1976]. So these are titles that we’re releasing first in theaters in Paris — not with wide releases, but important ones regarding revival, regarding the number of prints, the promotion and everything, the press we can get. And I know these films will get either no release in theaters in the UK or the US, or a really tiny one, a small one, not a release made by a distributor to put out theatrically in the main cities and key territories and everything… It is already or will be released on DVD or Blu-ray or whatever in the US, but the release itself theatrically in the US will be more like special events, or special screenings, or a very small thing compared to the re-release in France, where it will be handled as a new film for the week. [Note: The aforementioned films happen to have all been licensed in the US by The Criterion Collection.]

C.K. : When you’ve got a film that’s making the rounds in the US to all the different cities — maybe only a weekend run, or a single screening, or playing only for a few days — are the margins large enough to make a profit in and of itself ? Or do those screenings serve only as a promotional tactic for DVD, Blu-ray, or VOD, at this point in time ?

 It’s important for us to make this film alive in theaters.

V. P.-B. : It’s the same philosophy, whether in France or the US. First, if we have the theatrical rights, even if we have the other rights too, our goal is to give the film a theatrical run, because it’s important for us to make this film alive in theaters. And also of course because there is an economic aspect to everything, it needs to get a minimum of expectations for admission and gross. Each release has its own economics regarding expenses and gross, and we need to find, or try to find, a balance. But it’s not so easy. And if you manage to get other rights, it doesn’t mean you will recoup everything, because afterwards you have to be able to find TV sales, or S-VOD, or VOD, or DVD. To be able to do what we do, we have to maximize the theatrical release, and not just see it as a window of promotion for the other media. Because the other media are tough, also. DVD and Blu-ray have really decreased in the last few years. There’s still an audience, but it doesn’t mean you will automatically recoup your expense.

C.K. : You mentioned TV sales. I know that in France there are a lot of channels that will play revival films — Arte, France 2 —

V. P.-B. : — Canal +, Orange —

C.K. : — and in America it seems, there’s really only one channel —

V. P.-B. : — TCM.

C. K. : TCM.

V. P.-B. : If you manage to sell to TCM here in the US you’re a lucky guy; if you don’t manage, you have nothing. It’s true that in France you have more possibilities, even though it’s tougher and tougher, but you have different channels where you have the possibility to sell classic titles. And not only the big names, and the big classic titles. We don’t automatically have the big Hitchcock movies for TV rights, that kind of movie, like Casablanca or the rest, so we mostly have more independent or different kinds of stuff. But you still have the possibility in France to have a broadcast. In the US, that’s right, and I think everyone will agree on this, that the only possibility is TCM — later on, it seems, S-VOD will replace, in an economic way, the TV sale in the US.

C. K. : I’d like to talk a bit about LA: the topography of Los Angeles, the logistics of getting from one theater to another in terms of how spread out the city is, the flavor of the neighborhoods, etc.

V. P.-B. : LA is a complex city. At the same time, there are a lot of theaters — of course, multiplexes like all over the world, but a lot of arthouse theaters, there’s the Landmark circuit, there’s Laemmle, there are are independent theaters such as, of course, The Cinefamily. The Alamo Drafthouse brand will open in Downtown with seven or eight screens, and I believe they’ll certainly do what they’re doing in the other Alamos [based out of Austin, Texas], a mix of a few kinds of titles: arthouse, revivals, cult movies, and so on. And of course there are a lot of cinematheques: the American Cinematheque, which has two places — the Egyptian, and the Aero in Santa Monica; UCLA; LACMA organizes a classic screening once a week. So in the end, there are a lot of possibilities, but films are going in and out of theaters fast, more now than ever: it means that movies, like new French titles, or we were talking about for example The Assassin [Nie Yinniang, 2015] by Hou Hsiao-hsien, or a revival — you have to choose to see them at the very moment they’re on the screen, because the film could stay for one week, maybe two, but it goes out very fast. So this is LA —  you have to be available to go from one place to another. And not to be afraid to go to Santa Monica when you’re on the opposite end of the city.

In the last few years, another kind of cinephilia involves “event screenings” — it means there are lots of outdoor screenings for four months in so many places, and they fill up, but really with more recent titles of the ‘70s and of the ‘80s. More American titles, sometimes big classics such as Psycho, Sunset Boulevard, or Some Like It Hot… Outdoor screenings, rooftop screenings. Downtown there are maybe the most beautiful theaters of all over the world, the “palaces” from the ‘20s, that are not really open nowadays every day, but reopen for special screenings, concerts, etc.

Maybe the most well-known arthouse theater in the US for new movies and revivals in New York is Film Forum; you don’t have the equivalent of Film Forum in LA. It doesn’t exist. At the same time, The Cinefamily is something unique, and you don’t have a Cinefamily in New York. It’s quite interesting.

Maybe you’ve heard of this very weird and strange movie called Roar [1981], as in the cry of the lion, starring Melanie Griffith. It was a kind of B-movie of the ‘80s. It was with Tippi Hendren, and was directed by Tippi Hendren’s husband at the time [Noel Marshall]. It’s about life surrounded by lions in Africa. It’s really a weird movie, and it’s been released in the US by Alamo Drafthouse; they have the theatrical rights, and they released it a few months ago. It was at Cinefamily in LA, it came back for a few weeks — and then I saw that it was just released in New York only as a midnight screening. Because it’s more of a cult, recent, ‘hipster’ movie, and there is this audience in LA, not automatically as much in New York.

In Paris, you have so many arthouse theaters in the Quartier Latin. A lot of them are doing revivals almost all over the year, which is unique. You have something like maybe six or seven theaters that are showing new releases of revivals. One new cinema, maybe you’ve heard about it, owned by Pathé, just opened: they’ve opened the first revival multiplex, called Les Fauvettes. It’s a brand new theater with five screens, and their goal is to specialize in reissues and revivals as a multiplex, as a non-independent company because it’s Pathé, and in a district [the 13th arrondissement] where there are cinemas, but it’s not really a cinephile district. So it’s interesting, and let’s see how it will go, it’s only just starting.

A Touch of zen (King Hu, 1969).

A Touch of zen (King Hu, 1969).

C. K. : With the options of theaters expanding recently in Los Angeles, can you talk a little about how Los Angeles has transformed in the last five or ten years? Compared with what the popular conception of Los Angeles has been for decades, what is modern LA?

V. P.-B. : In a way it’s difficult for me to say, because I’m just a new guy in LA, who’s been living here for one year. But you can really see the city itself is changing every day. So I’m sure it’s [easier] to compare it to ten years ago, but even now in [recent] days new districts are gentrified, developed. Downtown is really one of the places to be; you know, the place used to be considered very dangerous, and no Angelenos would go to Downtown. The same with part of the east of LA, like Echo Park, 10, 15 years ago, gang wars were taking place in Silver Lake and Echo Park — now it’s really gentrified, with families and so on. And LA is so big that you can see that every day, every month, something new is arriving — restaurants, coffee shops, maybe cinemas and so on, and there’s a new trendy place where there was almost nothing, because people are really moving there and going from one place to another. So yeah, you can really feel that there’s an amazing energy. And especially in a cultural way, not only with cinema, but with music, artists, painting, galleries, and so on. Maybe I’m not the best to talk about it because I was not there like ten years ago, but certainly there’s a new vibe. A new museum just opened also, The Broad, a huge modern museum in Downtown… Certainly from what I’ve heard from people who’ve been here longer than me, there was a lack of this cultural aspect. And you can believe that LA wants to get it very fast, very quick, [and to be able to be compared] with New York, for example.

C. K. : Do you think that Uber has contributed to this new energy in a certain way?

V. P.-B. : Yes, for sure. Uber, Lyft, and others. Because of course the car is still the majority. But I have the feeling that even if it was the minority, there’s a new generation, enough people want to live in a different way in LA. There are these car services such as Uber and Lyft; the metro is extending, it will open soon in Santa Monica from Downtown, they’re just finishing it. It will go up to LACMA, where so far there is no metro. And bikes, and trains… So yeah, it’s a lot of change, and it will take a lot of time while the car stays the main way to go from one point to another in LA because of the distance. But on a small level at least, there’s a real change in the philosophy of the city.

C. K. : Just for context, the distance from Downtown to Santa Monica is…?

V. P.-B. : It’s a long way. Without traffic, you’ll make it in 30 minutes. With traffic, you can make it in one hour, one hour 15 minutes. 30 kilometers, so around 20 miles, to Santa Monica on the west side from Silver Lake or Los Feliz on the east side.

C. K. : If we plunge back into the older Los Angeles, let’s talk about Body Double for a little while. Who initiated the restoration of the film?

V. P.-B. : Body Double is a movie that we only have the rights for in France. So we’re doing VOD, DVD and Blu-ray. So this one of the important releases for the end of this year in France on DVD and Blu-ray, and with a specific and very new collector edition that we’re launching with this title.

Regarding the restoration, we didn’t contribute to it. It was restored by Sony who are quite involved with their library. They’re doing a lot of 4K restorations, and Body Double was part of this. Like many of their restorations, it was made by Grover Crisp, whose restorations are really amazing and great. So we managed to get a brand new restoration in 4K from Sony directly, licensed from Sony in fact. It will be something a little bit new and unseen in the French market, as considering the fact that the DVD market is tougher and tougher in France, and people want to go more and more toward exceptional editions, box sets, and so on, we realized on our past releases that even though if we were releasing a beautiful DVD or Blu-ray, but only this normal way, with the traditional packaging of DVD and Blu-ray with the nice cover and so on, it was not enough — the physical support lost a little bit of its capacity with the cinephiles and so on, a subtitled version could have been released in the past even on an earlier edition on DVD. So people would need to buy it again, and everything… So we decided to launch special collector editions, not a box set of several films or on one director, but on only one movie. And this is [the case with] Body Double. It will have a book of 200 pages with a lot of unseen photographs, archives, and the idea is to work on archive editions. [Not only with regard to] the film DVD and Blu-ray, but with specific packaging of course, which is between the book and the DVD and Blu-ray. To have a beautiful object, and to have as much as possible things you couldn’t find about the film, and to keep it as an object. So it will be slightly bigger than a classic DVD or Blu-ray.

To bring this kind of box set edition only on one specific title really brings a new excitement to the public, the audience of the cinephiles. These editions will be limited at 3000, it will only be 3000 units, and we’ll never republish this edition afterwards in a smaller format or whatever. So it has to be very limited…. But you have to try to innovate, and to create something new in a way, even if a few things have been done like this in other countries or so on. But also to create a collection like this; so Body Double will be “#1”. And we want to release every three months a title this way, to have four titles like this a year, so people can follow and desire obtaining the collection.

C.K. : I think it’s kind of similar to the way in which vinyl has come back.

V. P.-B. : Exactly. The physical object is so banalized nowadays, you have to bring something else. And the audience is completely ready to get that, and want that, voilà. It’s difficult because it’s a lot of work and there are a lot of requirements, but you have to try to be more and more unique; if not, you’re just releasing a DVD in the old way, and even if a title might interest some cinephiles, it won’t be enough regarding the fact that they could see on S-VOD for ten bucks hundreds of movies. So how do you bring this audience who’s continuing following you because they have the same feeling of cinephilia to acquire what you’re releasing ? And even though we can see of course that the 3000-limited-edition of Body Double is to be able to go out-of-print very quickly, at the same time it will increase interest on the title itself.

C.K. : Limited editions do spur people to investigate the release. For example, when Masters of Cinema did the Late Mizoguchi box set with the final eight films (or almost final eight; we didn’t have Musashino-fujin or Shin Hei-ke monogatari), there were 3000 units, with the 300-page book, and it sold out quickly.

V. P.-B. : If you were releasing just one Mizoguchi title, it would not work. It would work to have something like maybe not the entire filmography, but like something more complete. Whatever it is — on a director, and it’s quite more [typical] to do a box set about a director — but also, if the film deserves it, and you can find some content, and you imagine it would interest the audience, as you can’t do this with every title and with every director — this is what the cinephile wants nowadays, more than ever. And, more especially, now there are so many easier and cheaper ways to see a movie of this kind.

C.K. : Are you able to talk about what your next projects will be?

V. P.-B. : Right now we’re working on releases in France on DVD and Blu-ray by the director Michael Cimino — it will be Year of the Dragon and Desperate Hours. And we’ll be releasing two King Hu movies that we released in theaters last summer; they’ll be released at the end of the year in a special box set: A Touch of Zen and Dragon Inn. We’re working on a Richard Fleischer box set also following some of the movies we released a few years ago theatrically : Violent Saturday10 Rillington Place… We like the idea and the possibility of continuing work on a director even though he’s not alive anymore, and to follow him over the years.

Body double (Brian De Palma, 1981).

Body double (Brian De Palma, 1981).

  • Body double (Brian De Palma, 1981).
  • L'assoiffé (Guru Dutt, 1957).
  • A  Touch of zen (King Hu, 1969).

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