Thursday, July 3, 2003

Locally produced movie gets outlet

'Artworks' to be booked in theaters

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Now that Jim Amatulli's $1.6 million gamble - a locally produced drama called Artworks - has found a commercial home, he is thinking about his next stab at risky business.

Port Chester, N.Y., distributor Panorama Entertainment has signed a deal to book the movie into a limited number of theaters, then most likely find a cable outlet for it. The 18-year-old firm handles small-scale independent films, including The Bread, My Sweet and Diamond Men.

"The plan is to do a limited theatrical release. We will have a premiere here in Cincinnati, probably in the fall," Amatulli said.

Overseas distribution will be overseen by Artist View Entertainment, a California firm that also handled The Bread, My Sweet.

Amatulli said he picked the firms over some competitors, because "I judge this more on personality and how they do business and how they're willing to talk about the things that are important."

In addition, both agreed to guarantee to actually book the film in a certain number of theaters. "So if they don't perform, I can get my film back." On the plus side, he said, "We don't have to make much for my investors to get their money back and make profits."

A veteran commercial and video producer, Amatulli said his experience with the local filmmaking community convinced him more can be done.

"We're going to make a market here in Cincinnati. The idea is to make more small movies, maybe two a year. This city couldn't handle more than that," he said.

Amatulli is drafting plans for an investment pool to finance new movies with a fund that could also attract co-production money from studios and negotiate advance rights sales to foreign markets, for example.

The enterprise amounts to a roll of the dice, he said.

"It's easy to write down 'I'm going to raise $10 million.' Getting it is something else. ... There are people out there who have the money to put into this. Do I know who they are? No."

Still, he said, he believes the investors will come through. "What other business - legal business - can generate the kind of profits in two years that a film can make? It's high risk, high reward."


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