|Morgan Creek is one
of the few remaining independent production companies that finances its
own production and marketing costs, and retains full ownership of its own
It was created in 1988, and for the past eight years it has had an exclusive distribution deal with Warner Bros. But now it is facing many new and exciting changes.
From 1 January, 2004, it will have a three-year-long exclusive distribution arrangement with Universal Pictures. Morgan Creek is also seeing major changes in the boardroom. One of the key new executives is Brad Luff who was appointed President of Production in July 2003.
On 11 November I got the chance to have a telephone interview with Brad Luff. I started by asking him what attracted him to Morgan Creek. He replied that Morgan Creek is:
“the last of the independent companies around. It is a great opportunity to work through the current list of projects and to build on themHe is also attracted to more serious film projects like About Schmidt. He’s interested in anything that’s fresh, funny, exciting, or action-packed. He has established a reputation as the executive producer of such teen movies as Not Another Teenage Movie (2001), Saving Silverman (2001), Urban Legends (1998), Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000) and very soon his latest film as producer is Torque, will be on release. Torque is a motorcycle action movie that is aimed at the audience who enjoyed Fast and the Furious. He explained that: “Action, at the right price,” is a genre Morgan Creek would like to be involved with in future.
I asked what the difference is between his previous job at Original Film where he served as Executive Vice President of Production and Morgan Creek. “The difference,” he said “ is that before we had to sell to others. At Morgan Creek we are the producers and financiers.” So here he gets the best of both worlds.
The new deal with Universal means that they will be making approximately three movies a year. These will have a budget from $5 million to $60 million, with horror movies having a budget range of $15 to $20 million.
The source for these projects can be scripts, books, articles and comic books. He’s interested in “big concepts and ideas” that can gain a momentum and create horror or thriller franchises like the Blade movies. At the moment Morgan Creek is producing a prequel to one of the landmark horror movies of all-time: The Exorcist. Exorcist: The Beginning is directed by Paul Schrader and is scheduled for an early 2004 release.
Since Morgan Creek does not have massive budgets for its films it is willing to use new talent in front of, and behind the camera. They can create new stars or re-invigorate the careers of older stars, and Brad is always on the look-out for new directing talent from film, TV or video.
Behind the scenes Brad is beefing up his staff in-line with his vision for Morgan Creek. His latest appointment is Beth Babyak who is from Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment company where she worked as a Creative Executive . At Imagine she helped develop the screenplay and supervise the production of 8 Mile, starring Eminem; the up-coming release The Alamo, starring Dennis Quaid; and supervised development and production of the just-released Intolerable Cruelty. Brad was impressed by her because she shares his “taste and experience”.
He has also enlisted Andy Bohn and Mona Panchal as new junior executives. Andy Bohn joins Morgan Creek from ICM, where he worked in the motion picture literary and talent departments. Prior to joining ICM, he worked at Trilogy Entertainment Group. Mona Panchal started her career working as a PA and wardrobe assistant on independent features. She then worked with the CEO of a motion picture trailer company called Aspect Ratio. Afterwards, she left marketing to work with Elizabeth Ingold, Exec. VP of Production at MGM.
As a specialist in producing teen movies I asked Brad about the difficulties of keeping this audience satisfied. He admitted that the mass audience and “teens are smart”. It easy to get out of touch with the public. He makes films for a mass audience and does not care too much about what the critics write about them, though if they like or appreciate his movies that’s obviously rewarding. The box-office is a major indicator as to whether he and Morgan Creek continues to succeed in this highly competitive sector of the market.
Brad has what sounds like the ideal movie job as he has the opportunity to have creative input on set, in the edit suite and in all the other decision-making processes.
The Morgan Creek website can be found at:
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