The same day Brian Fox sold his namesake advertising agency which specialized in marketing blockbuster Hollywood movies he started a new agency dedicated to his first love, selling small independent films.
"I'm at the point in my life where I have that luxury," he said. But his new agency, B.D. Fox Independent, doesn't promise much luxury. Its first client is a production house in Russia that wants Fox to "Americanize" the way Russian-produced films are promoted inside that country.
"The Russians have become a sophisticated market, they just have a different sensibility very nationalistic. But they get to see American films too," Fox explained. His client, an old Hollywood friend who now runs Monumental Films in Moscow, wants his local fare to compete with the glitz of the Hollywood marketing machine.
To Americanize the marketing effort, Fox will implement faster-paced previews in theaters, dramatic designs for one-sheet posters, gala premieres on opening night, and better viral Internet campaigns.
But Fox's strategy of helping foreigners mass-market their movies runs counter to prevailing attitudes in most of the world. "Outside of America film is an art, not an industry," said Steven Gaydos, executive editor of Variety and an expert on foreign film. "We have a model of promotion, distribution, salesmanship, exit strategy we know all that. It's the opposite over there. They have no history of film as a business."
Fox's former company, B.D. Fox & Friends, was purchased by senior management, which immediately changed the name to Ocean Park Creative. The company handled advertising for movies such as "E.T.," "Batman," "Harry Potter" and "The Matrix." The agency also helped launch the Sci-Fi Channel and Microsoft Corp.'s video game "Halo."
But those were big-budget projects. Fox points to his former agency's success with the quirky comedy "A Day Without a Mexican" as the model for his new venture. A low-budget marketing campaign with provocative billboards made the film a modest commercial success.
And according to Gaydos, Fox's timing couldn't be better.
"Clearly there's a revolution in Russia no pun intended," he said. "The audience's appetite for movies in Russian is on the increase. So it's a good place to try this strategy."
To manage his risk, Fox will only handle films with distribution deals in place. However, in an unusual twist, he said his new company will help obtain funding for a few select projects, although he will only supply "P & A;," or prints and advertising money, not bankroll the actual production of a film.
Like plenty of famous actors and film executives before him, Fox feels commercial success allows him the chance to get artsy all the way to the local art house cinema.
"You look at the Academy Awards, most are given to independent projects," he maintained. "I enjoy working with the filmmakers in the creative process, and you get to do that more with independents."
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