Former MGM President Yoram Globus's $50 Million Plan to Disrupt Hollywood
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If you’re going to be a rebel, do it with a purpose. That’s Yoram Globus's motto. The legendary Hollywood producer and former President of MGM and The Cannon Group has partnered with his son, Ori Globus, to relaunch the renowned Globus film empire with Rebel Way Entertainment. (Yoram is Chairman and Ori is CEO.) Entering its West Hollywood headquarters, I Immediately I noticed a framed poster for one of my favorite movies, Thelma & Louise, which Yoram fondly remembers green lighting during his tenure at MGM.
Yoram is most widely known for elevating Cannon’s production slate and making it, at the time during the 1980s, the largest independent producer and distributor in the world. His strategy of leveraging home video as the next big thing helped propel the careers of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, among others. He's also long been known for inventive pre-sales methods, so it’s no surprise that his vision has remained consistent with Rebel Way, which aims to feature familiar faces in offerings across the action and horror genres. The ultimate goal is to ensure that his movies already have a built-in fan base before distributors are even approached.
The company secured a $50 million finance deal with Black Tulip Management, a Miami-based alternative asset-management firm founded by Benoit P. Pous Bertran de Balanda and Oliver Gilly, to produce a slate of 10-15 films. And Ori has already cast everyone from NFL star Rob Gronkowski to established comic actor Nick Swardson in Rebel Way flicks, all part of their effort to cast the net.
Essentially, they approach every film like a startup that has to be taken from concept to launch, but in a fraction of the time. And they have several of these in process at any given time. (One of Rebel Way's first releases, Deported — directed by Adam Sandler's nephew, Tyler Spindel nephew of Adam Sandler — has already won the Best Genre Film Feature Award at Mammoth Film Festival.)
After mutually admiring the memorabilia lining Rebel Way's walls, Yoram, Ori and I sat down and discussed the ways in which filmmaking and distribution have and haven't changed, and what puts a person and comapny on the path to success.
Why don't big studios make movies like Thelma & Louise anymore?
Yoram: It comes down to costs.
Ori: When an executive in a studio needs to make a decision on which movie is next, he prefers to make Superman 2 rather than the Thelma and Louise, because he knows if it's not going to work, no one can blame him.
How has business of distributing films fundamentally changed over the decades?
Yoram: When film first emerged, studios relied on people to go to the box office to buy a ticket. If a ton of people went to see the movie, it was successful. If not, it was a failure and the studio lost money. Then came the television, which helped studios a lot, because there was another channel for studios to distribute their films. Then came video and steaming, which has created massive opportunity.
Ori: The subscription-based model with companies like Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms really changed the game. [But] the fact is that theatrical movies are still making a lot of money — usually horror and superhero films.
What differentiates Rebel Way from other studios?
Ori: We believe that we should give directors the freedom to make their own decisions. That's been [Yoram's] approach for many years, and that's the approach of the company. Not many producers in this town will give the director that kind of freedom. At many studios, you have 30 decision-makers for every movie. Everything has to be approved by so many people. That's not the process here.
How do you develop scripts and attach the right talent to them?
Ori: It takes time to attach a director, so while we're [doing that], we’re working on making sure the script is in a good place. The writers are coming up with the outline, showing you what the movie's going to look like. Once we approve the outline, the treatment and synopsis, we give them the OK to move forward. We have a team of about 50 readers that act as a focus group of sorts who will also weigh in on the script.
What's the most important advice you could give to aspiring producers, directors and actors?
Ori: Not to fear, stick to their vision and be consistent with it. Never give up. Most importantly, keep creating and executing their dreams. There is no better school than in real life.
Yoram: A talented director needs freedom. We did a film [at Cannon], Love Streams, with John Cassavetes that won the [Golden Bear] first prize at the Berlin Film Festival. He came in with the movie, and it was like two hours, and we told him it's really good, but it can also be good commercially if he cut 10 minutes. So he said OK, came in for the next screening, and the movie was two hours and 20 minutes. He punished us for asking him to cut the film. [Laughs] It ended up being a very good movie, and it's made money also.
What about any impactful advice you could give to other studio heads and owners?
Ori: Movies are art, and when it comes to art, you can’t compromise on the creative. Movies should definitely have commercial appeal, but it’s important to make sure it doesn’t hurt the integrity of the movies.
Can you tell me about a challenge you overcame and what you learned from it?
Ori: The movie business is full of daily challenges. However, if you look at it as a challenge instead of looking at it as an additional task or another step in the process, you won’t be able to last long in the business. Every challenge and solution helps you achieve the final product that you’re aiming for.