Neon’s Elissa Federoff on Selecting ‘Social Currency’ Films, Moving to Production and Development | New
Neon’s head of distribution, Elissa Federoff, was one of the distinguished guests of the Locarno Pro industry program at the Locarno Film Festival.
Launched in 2017, independent distributor Neon acquired three famous films – 2019 Parasite2021 Titanium and 2022 triangle of sadness – who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Parasite was the first non-English language feature to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Neon would consider selling all or part of its assets.
“Neon’s greatest strength is that the movies we choose are all movies that we really love, and that we really believe in,” Federoff explained, pointing out that the distributor was “agnostic” about genre, country of origin or language of a film. “We only choose films that have great storytellers, great stories. Original films with social currency, social relevance and those that will impact an audience that will truly generate an emotional experience for them.
She said Neon is looking to release films with unique campaigns. “We manage to overcome certain stereotypes for a foreign film or a genre film, anything that could have been relegated in the past to a smaller or older audience.
Going back to the strategies of some of Neon’s releases before and after the pandemic, Federoff noted that Parasite was released on video on demand at the time of the Oscar nominations announcement [having steadily built a presence beforehand in theatres for many months]. “It was on VoD and in theaters at the same time, but still managed to go from $27 million to $53 million [at the box office]”, Federoff said. “It really speaks to how people are watching their content the way they want to and shows that home entertainment and cinema can co-exist.”
She said that windows have collapsed during the pandemic, but that Neon “is no stranger to collapsed windows — we’ve been doing it for years. We believe that every movie deserves its own kind of campaign and its own kind of exit.
“Some movies like Parasite Where honey country need 180 days in theaters, and then there are other films that are moving faster, the ones where the audience really comes out on the first day.
The drama with Nicolas Cage by Michael Sarnoski Pig, for example, was released in June 2021 with a window reduced from 90 days to 17 days. The same strategy was followed last fall for the release of Neon from Titanium in 500 theaters followed by the launch of home entertainment 17 days later.
According to Federoff, studies show that 90% of a movie’s audience comes to the theater within the first two weeks.
As for the future, Federoff suggested that Neon was now looking to move into production and development and be involved in projects at a much earlier stage.
“For small companies like ours, it’s the only way to survive against streamers and bigger studios. We have to own our intellectual property and we have to own the world,” she said. to be able to control all of these things to maximize what we can get out of it and we have to be able to use our smart spending in the best possible way.”
“If we’re just going to acquire a movie for one territory, then, first of all, it’s really hard to compete because there’s a lot of people with a lot more money who can throw it in an absurd way at movies.”
“The other reason for wanting to own the worldwide rights is so we can then control the entire campaign for the film so that the worldwide marketing can be ours.”