A distributor three years of life and only 27 employees is the revelation in the united States, to ensure the projection in cinemas of films that would be lost in the abyss of the streaming. It is Neon, responsible for bringing the country to the north, the phenomenon of south Korean “Parasite” and bring that milestone to “internationalize” the showcase of the Oscar awards. But the film of Bong Joon-ho is just one of the credits of this curator of content: most of their catalogue tends to be on the lists of the best of the year, although rarely came officially to the rooms by these latitudes.
After working in a video store when I was a student at the University of North Carolina, the u.s. Tom Quinn began his career in the industry at Samuel Goldwyn Films prior to joining Magnolia Pictureswhere he discovered the horror movie “The Host” (2006) and the thriller “Mother” (2009), both projects of the director, south Korean. From there, their bond of admiration, which is perpetuated when Quinn went to Radius-TWC, a subsidiary of The Weinstein Company, which distributed another Bong, “The express of fear” (Snowpiercer, 2013).
As featured in The New York Times, Quinn is obsessed with protecting the original cut of 126 minutes due to the known defect in the company of Harvey Weinstein for putting scissors in the editing room. The episode marked to Quinn, who opted to leave their jobs and face their own distributor: one aimed at people who have no aversion to violence, the foreign language and to non-fiction.
The logo of this production company that bet to curating outstanding content.
To achieve its purpose, the entrepreneur joined his friend Tim League, owner of the chain Alamo Draft House Cinema. In the first months of 2017, the duo gathered a few million dollars on the basis of the acquisition of small movies. The first to reach the rooms americans thanks to the Neon was “Colossal”, a demented black-comedy science-fiction directed by the Spanish Nacho Vigalondo, where Anne Hathaway is a woman with problems of alcoholism that is related to a creature simile Kaiju in Seoul.
Gradually, Neon joined other gems of festivals, among them, “Ingrid Goes West”, directed by Matt Spicer. Out of Sundance, the film explores the culture of ‘I like it’, the reputation is virtual, and the misery that causes this frenzy called Instagram. Again excellent reviews, but a limited output in the rooms and clear-sighted gain.
Trailer of the solvent “Ingrid goes west” (Ingrid changes of direction) that can be seen on Netflix
It was not until the International Film Festival of Toronto in 2017 when the Neon found its first hit. Quinn and the League joined to 30West, a company that invests in media, in bidding for the rights to “I am Tonya” (I, Tonya, 2017). The Neon was offered $ 5 million, three less than the giant Netflix. However, the producer of Margot Robbie leaned in for a premiere room, with a promise to campaign for the awards season.
“A lot of times the money is the same, and many times the money is three times what we are offering. But they are offering no guarantee of a window theatrical. And we are committed to the cinema”said Quinn then left after the distribution. Finally, the biopic of the scandalous figure skater on ice raised $ 30 million in the united States and closed with the Oscar for best supporting actress for Allison Janney.
Documentaries like “Three Identical Strangers” (2018) and “Apollo 11” (2019) were nominated in the Critics’ Choice Awards and at the Baftas, while “Honeyland” (2019) came to integrate the final category at the Oscars last February. Other movies of Neon include the fantasy Swedish “Border” (2018); the drama “Vox Lux” (2018), with Natalie Portman; and “Amazing Grace” (2018), tribute to Aretha Franklin with address Sydney Pollack.
The distributor also released in the U.S. two of the best in 2019: the colombian “Monkeys” (2019), Alejandro Landes, and the French “Portrait of a woman in flames” (Portrait of the jeune fille en feu, 2019), film romantic Céline Sciamma unfairly ignored.
For Quinn, aware of the difficult time through the small and medium-sized film projects, the challenge is to find content that “go beyond the clutter of all the other entertainment options that people have at home.” Their motto is to recover the sense of “identity” in the rooms, so that they are not slaves of a tentpole hogging their screens. The same crusade that keeps the A24, the studio indie behind “The Lobster” (2016), “Hereditary” (2018) and “The Lighthouse” (2019), among many more.
In the midst of the restrictions by the pandemic, Neon released a few days ago in a handful of autocines of the united States the documentary “Spaceship Earth”, based on the sect that formed in the ’90’s a group of counterculture in the ecosystem Biosphere 2. In the meantime, for the end of the year, save the dramas as “Shirley”, with Elisabeth Moss, and “Ammonite”, with Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.
A new direction
Neon acquired “Parasite” when I was in the stage of script, and beyond by 2018. Quinn enjoyed a good relationship with Bong Joon-ho for his previous projectsbut when the film swept the Golden Palm in Cannes, the distribution company to set out a strategy for north America, with a strong emphasis on the social networks, without resorting to the traditional tv. In a 22-week tour, which grossed US$ 53,4 million in the U.S., while Hulu bought the rights to streaming: the 70% goes direct to the distributor.
The triumph of the ribbon, south Korean opened the interest of the larger studies towards a greater variety of products, if one takes into account that the US lowered its participation in box office worldwide to 27% in 2019. The own Bong Joon-ho made clear at the ceremony of the Oscars: “once you overcome the barrier of subtitles, you’ll know movies much more amazing”.
This blow to the pride of stale and conservative will hurt the president, Donald Trump, who questioned: “How bad were the Academy awards this year? The winner was a film from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We have enough problems with South Korea by trade. Can we recover ‘What the wind’, please?”. The Neon went out to the crossroads from Twitter: “It is understandable, he can’t read.”