How TriStar Boss Nicole Brown Bet on ‘Woman King’ During the Pandemic – Deadline

The winds of change with theater and streaming coming out of Covid were front and center this morning at the TIFF panel for Dialogs: Production & Development which included TriStar President Nicole Brown, Knives out franchise producer Ram Bergman and White noise producer Uri Singer.

President of TriStar Pictures Nicole Brown
Getty Images

It was an interesting stand: all three are involved in adult bait titles this season. Brown, who was a force to get the star of Viola Davis, Gina Prince-Bythewood directed Brave heart– like a movie The female king made, is an executive in a studio dedicated to the theater. Bergman had a pre-pandemic twist in Knives out ($311 million), sold the sequels to Netflix for $400 million, while Singer transformed White noise from an anticipated limited series to a Venice Film Festival premiere directed and adapted by Noah Baumbach.

“I call the pandemic the great earthquake in Hollywood,” Brown said, “there was always streaming, but it emboldened this business and showed consumers that there was an opportunity here to keep house and watch some good material.”

But as adults have returned to cinemas, albeit slowly this summer, for photos like Elvis and Where the Crawdads sing, Brown says “there are fewer theatrical ideas that make sense; ideas must grow. Your cast should be as strong as possible. Your execution must be A+. There are no more good theatrical films. They must all be excellent. The bar has been raised for us,” added the President of TriStar.

“You have to decide if it has the DNA to be a global Friday night movie,” Brown said, “and if it doesn’t, it’s OK to pivot. Because the streaming market is a wonderful place to pivot.

Nicole Brown, Ram Bergman and Uri Monkey

Nicole Brown, Ram Bergman and Uri Monkey

Typically, studio execs have made their go-ahead decisions on “comps,” older movies, and their box office results, which could indicate how a future project might land in the market. But for Sony and Brown, there’s a new gut in this crazy Covid market: give moviegoers something they’ve never seen before – like Woman King.

“It’s easier to say ‘yes’ to something when you look back,” Brown explains. But with woman king, “There were no compositions… It had never been done before. Why would we? This is an opportunity to do something new. Sony saw the value. We believed in it and took the bet. People have never seen this before – there is an opportunity.

Currently followed as Woman King, which opens Friday, September 16, tracking between $13 million and $16 million. A talent rep, unrelated to the project, told me recently that the photo was best described as “world building.” Woman King has its world premiere here at TIFF tonight.

Given the wacky market for feature films, more than ever, producers need to be agnostic about where their stories will be told. “You have to do what you have to do to get the movie done,” Bergman emphasized.

That said, Bergman does not foresee a smooth road.

“I think there will be a lot of studios and streamers making fewer movies than they are doing right now, and making them for less money,” the producer said. Who is injured? Mid-size films, with microbudget titles at even lower budgets.

He added, “Intermediate films are going to get harder and harder to make. People will be paid less. There will be some kind of correction.