Film comps are always a challenge. It’s a tall order to find matches that accurately reflect the genre, milieu, tone, themes, sensibilities and target audiences while at the same time pair with reasonably comparable calibers of cast and budgets – while at the same time, only include those that are “current” in today’s wildly fluctuating economic conditions
Add to that finding a yellow needle in the haystack: finding ultra-low budget films the average investor or potential partner will actually be familiar with. It’s a tough list to compile that can’t be ripped to shreds from every angle.
As such, we have done our highest and best research and offer up four selected comps that we feel are reasonable on all fronts. The casts are comparable: Once was all unknowns. Winter’s Bone starred Jennifer Lawrence before she was Jennifer Lawrence – exactly the kind of break-out role we are hoping will attract the next Jennifer Lawrence! They were all R- or NC-17-rated. The budgets range from $150,000 – $9.4MM with an average budget of $1.6MM (we are half to a third that, depending on where we end up).
Most of these films are less than five years old with the oldest eight. Their box offices delivered between $6.5 – $14MM, with a mean of $11.4MM. Their widest releases ranged from 150 to 567 theaters, their runs: 16 to 45 weeks. While we appreciate there are infinite variables and factors in our constantly moving target, we adjusted the lows and the highs and used an average to develop our working projections.
If our budget is too lean, we won’t be able to afford any stars so we won’t gain the distribution interest or marketing traction necessary to create profitable momentum. On the other hand, it’s all too easy to throw excessive money at talent (and music, stunts and marketing) betting the store that you’ll hit the magic tipping point but that unnecessary overspend risk also dilutes the promise of profit in the most likely box office ranges.
Thus, we believe the SAG Modified Low Budget as our hard cost (with a $1.2 total budget including deferments and box office bonuses) is indeed the sweet spot budget range which will allow us to invest in at least one marquis value talent, ideally supported by a strong ensemble.
Alternate key art. Focus groups showed this variation skewed heavily female.
2007: A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.
- $150K Budget
- $9.4 MM U.S. B.O.
- D: FOX Searchlight
- ISA: Summit
- Widest Release: 150
- 16 weeks in theaters
- Ireland, essentially unknown actors
- Academy Award for Best Original Song
- 21 wins
- 26 nominations
2014: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.
- Budget = $3.3MM
- W.W.B.O. = $14MM
- D: Sony Pictures Classics
- ISA: Sierra/Affinity
- Widest Release: 567
- 23 Weeks in Theaters
- 3 Oscars
- 74 wins
- 82 nominations
2010: An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.
- $2MM Budget
- $6.5MM US BO
- D: Roadside Attractions
- ISA: Fortissimo Films
- In theaters: 45 weeks
- Widest Release: 141
- Nominated for 4 Oscars
- 94 nominations
- Another 74 wins
Launched Jennifer Lawrence’s A-list career
2010: The relationship of a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over aspan of years by cross-cutting between time periods.
- $1MM Budget
- $11MM WWBO
- D: The Weinstein Co.
- ISA: Hyde Park Ent.
- In Thearers: 16 weeks
- Widest Relase: 450
- 7 wins
- 43 Nominations (incl. 1 Oscar)
We are not using any of the following comps for our financial projections because their budgets were astronomical compared to ours or are simply too old but a quick survey of the following serve as good creative comps and marketing touch points:
Rock n Roll: Almost Famous has the same accurate, high energy portrayal of an up and coming rock band on the road lifestyle, neither over glamorizing nor demonizing it – just striking a balance, exhibiting a genuine love and respect from the trenches insight.
Non-Linear Storytelling: Jumper, with its teen lead, and Looper share the jumping through time element as does The Time Traveler’s Wife, which also shares the romance of destiny. 500 Days of Summer (2009) at $7.5MM was a sweeter, younger, lighter love story while Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) $20M shares the desperate hope of crawling back through memories to salvage an unraveled love affair. Budgets allowing, our scenes with the Crazy Dude, Sam’s death and portal into his second shot at life may be respectful surreal Charlie Kaufman-esque nods.
While a wildly different genre, the helpless relentless drive of Groundhog Day’s coming back over and over again to move through the stages of grief, love and social connection until you get it right is thematically on point. Our story is similar to Memento (2000 @ $9MM), trying to piece life back together (backwards) or The Usual Suspects, piecing together the past from different perspectives or even the ancient classic Rashomon and its slightly more current variation, Courage Under Fire (1996), moving through different points of view as things aren’t as they might seem. Also, Slumdog Millionaire (2008 @ $15MM), while not time travel, per se, has the gritty re-examination of how a boy so young might know more than he appears thanks to his tragic past.
Addiction and Love: There are infinite examples: the 12-step program in 28 Days, addiction ruining a family in When a Man Loves a Woman. Seven Pounds, a gritty, dark, bittersweet story of a man trying to make amends for his past and achieve redemption before he, himself, goes. While Leaving Las Vegas was a huge hit, Once Again is quite unlike that film in that our Protagonist does not spiral hopelessly into self-destruction – he goes back and fixes it.