I great question was asked while I was on Producer’s Panel at River Bend Film Festival. A wonderful director and actress, Rose, asked, “Do you need to have stars in your film to get distribution.”
My short answer was, “No, you need a hook and that hook could be your genre, or your subject matter.” There was a wide variety of answers on the panel that ranged from Indie Producers (like myself) to Hollywood Producers. But since then I’ve been thinking more about it. And I don’t want to change my answer I actually want to prove my answer.
Today I just started brainstorming movies that I’ve seen or that were released in a big way at the box office that has no stars.
Here’s the list I came up with, feel free to disagree or add to the list:
- Blair Witch Project
- Napoleon Dynamite
- Paranormal Activity
- Whale Rider
- Gods Must Be Crazy
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding (John Cobett was on Sex in the City before and after this movie, I’d disagree that he gave the movie “Star Power”)
- Repo Man
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee wasn’t a name director at this point, after this film, yes.)
- Life of Pi (can argue that a name director really helped here)
- Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro was becoming a name director here)
Yes, now some are foreign films but they did have big box office appeal and release in the US including being nominated for some great awards outside the foreign film category.
Does it help having a star in your film to get distribution? Sure. Is it guaranteed to get distribution? No. A strong story with production value and a hook can and has made to box office success.