BREAKING: The Orchard is promising filmmakers full transparency during the lifecycle of their films, allowing them to see the revenue and expenditures from the beginning to the end of any film that the company acquires or distributes. If the company follows through with this, it will be something that filmmakers rarely see. Usually, as has been the case in the past with the major studios, filmmakers have had to sue to get full financial discovery on their films.
Executives at The Orchard say this morning that they will provide real-time performance data and P&A tracking for any film/filmmaker that they are in business with. They will also provide “an unparalleled look” at filmmakers’ revenue for past releases, including complete data for the Academy Award-nominated Best Documentary Cartel Land. They also say that this will start in earnest over the next six months, and give an example of using Cartel Land here: transparency.theorchard.com.
Deadline has asked for the full financials for Cartel Land and will post when we receive them. In the meantime, the company is using its own analytics combined with data across revenue streams (theatrical box office, breakdowns of P&A expenses, etc.) so that filmmakers can see spending against revenue, how minimum guarantees affect profit, and see the overall financial health of their film.
Dan Truong, The Orchard’s VP of Finance & Strategy, said that the company is doing this for a myriad of reasons: to get away from the antagonistic relationship that so often exists between distributor and filmmaker, to make sure that everyone has the same information so it is “a true collaboration and we can get in the room and talk about he strategy for the film.”
Also, he said that “in aligning the distributor and filmmaker for the first time, it allows the filmmaker to become an asset for release of the film and will optimize the film’s release. Philosophically, we understand that filmmakers today don’t have this level of information so they are usually in the dark and they are the ones who have the most skin in the game. If we can help educate independent filmmakers about the financials and the success of a film, that only helps the filmmaker sustain their career.”
Truong had another very salient point: “When you do this, it makes the economics of independent film more understandable and creates a more sustainable industry. In today’s world where things are changing so fast with (various distribution avenues), the gap of knowledge between distributor and filmmaker is deeper than it’s ever been.” He said The Orchard wants to erase that so that independent filmmakers can actually understand and witness first-hand the expenditures and the trajectory of the lifecycle of their films.
With that information, they even can reasonably project an end-game outcome.
Here is the kind of information that filmmakers can expect to see when working with The Orchard: